Newcomers soar to top of podium

Contributing writerFebruary 23, 2014 

In a state gymnastics meet featuring five defending champions, it was the new girls who stole the show.

A pair of juniors from Eastern Washington in their first season of high school gymnastics were among the individual winners Saturday at the Tacoma Dome Exhibition Hall.

Kamiakin’s Alexis Lawrence won the Class 3A/2A/1A vault with a score of 9.725, one day after capturing the all-around title. Despite competing at the highest level (10) of club gymnastics, she said she never anticipated having such a successful first season with the Braves of Kennewick.

“I had no idea what I was getting myself into,” she said. “I just wanted to have fun in a high school sport for the first time.”

Mead’s Jenna Schlosser, runner-up in Friday’s Class 4A all-around, said she entered her first state meet with a goal of winning the floor exercise. She did just that, scoring a 9.5 with a soaring, up-tempo routine.

“I’m a really powerful person,” she said. “It was fun to go out there and be as clean as possible (and) look at the judges and make them have a good time as well.”

Schlosser said it was “kind of lonely” being the last Panther standing, but she was pleased with how she represented her Spokane school.

“I was relieved and happy because I knew everything went well,” she said.

In the 3A/2A/1A competition, Southridge (Kennewick) junior Kiya Bjorge was the day’s only double winner, taking the bars (9.575) and floor (9.625). Sammamish junior Nykaela Dodson scored a 9.425 to repeat as beam champion.

In 4A, Newport senior Candace Ho retained her title on the beam (9.45), while Eastlake senior Jenna Hayes scored a 9.725 to win the vault. Woodinville sophomore Marisa Savage, the all-around champion, took the bars with a 9.55.

Puyallup sophomore Kate Jacobsen tied with Schlosser for second on the bars (9.525) and tied with Savage for third on the floor (9.375), which she largely attributed to concluding the routine with a flashy tumbling pass.

“I’m ecstatic,” Jacobsen said of her first trip to the Dome. “It was a little intimidating at first, but it turned out good.”

In the final meet of her gymnastics career, Enumclaw senior Olivia Bannerot medaled in all four 3A/2A/1A events. Her best finish was a tie for second on the floor (9.6).

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