Britni Atwell didn’t just make history – she made it twice.
On Saturday, the senior from Vancouver’s Heritage High became the first gymnast in state history to win an event four consecutive years. And then she did it again.
Atwell, who won the all-around competition on Friday, kicked off the final meet of her high-school career with a soaring vault that scored her 9.825 points. That was historic in that Atwell had won the vault each of the prior three years.
She picked up a second-place finish on the beam and third on the uneven bars, and then closed out the Class 4A individual championships at the Tacoma Dome with a winning score of 9.7 on the floor exercise, an event she also won the last three years.
Six gymnasts had won an event three times, but no one had won four until Atwell.
“I’m overwhelmed,” she said. “I didn’t know that I was chasing being the one to take it all four years – especially in two different events. And to defend my title, it’s like, it’s still mine. It’s amazing.”
In the 2A/3A competition, Enumclaw junior Olivia Bannerot won her first individual title on the uneven bars a day after her team won its second consecutive state championship.
“It wasn’t my best bars day, but I’m not complaining,” she said. “I’ve had a mental block on my release move, so it was cool that I got over it.”
Bannerot said that despite hitting her wrist on the bar, she was able to keep her movements tight during the routine. She also placed second on the vault and floor.
“I’m not as flashy as the other people with the cool dismounts,” she said, “so I just try to keep it clean.”
Atwell, who applied to compete in the senior nationals before arriving for the individual competition, said she was pleased to end her high school career with her best meet performance.
“I just went out and did what I do,” she said. “And it happened to be better than what I did before.”
Her coach, Rachel Tamayo, said that she couldn’t imagine how Atwell must be feeling.
“I’m just her coach and I’m overwhelmed,” she said. “It’s amazing to have a gymnast that has come so far. I’m just so proud of her.”
Atwell’s teammate, sophomore Nicole Moss, easily won the bars (9.675), while Newport junior Candace Ho back-flipped to victory on the beam (9.625).
Moss, who also placed third in the vault and beam, said that competing individually can be nerve-wracking, especially since the Vancouver-area gymnasts don’t see some of their strongest competition until the state meet.
“We don’t always make it as a team, so to show how good we are individually adds a little bit of pressure,” she said. “But then we rock the house.”
Highline senior Mia Alvarez said she was surprised to win the floor, with 9.625, instead of the beam, which is her strength. She tied for fifth in that event.
“Beam has always been my favorite, so I did not (expect) that, actually,” she said. “But I’m glad I did.”
Alvarez said that finishing second in Friday’s all-around competition behind teammate Kristen Rodal gave her extra incentive.
“I’ve been coming in second a lot behind Kristen because we did club together,” she said. “Today, I finally stepped it up.”
Kamiakin junior Kelsey Jaquish won the vault (9.675) and Sammamish sophomore Nykaela Dodson won the beam title (9.525).