A new gym to practice in has the Sumner High gymnastics team riding high as the Spartans have jumped out a 6-1 meet record as they look to capitalize on the momentum heading into postseason.
It’s a different feeling for many of the gymnasts who are part of the Sumner program. For years, the team had to outsource its practice site, training at the Auburn Gymnastics Center across from The Outlet Collection in Seattle in Auburn.
“It was a pain to get there, and not everyone on the team had a way to make the long trip to Auburn after school,” Emmi Bacha said.
With construction and the heavy traffic flow along state Route 167 — combined with the oversized crowd that AGC brings to its gym — it seemed like time for a change.
The Spartans got that change with a move to a new AGC gym opening up off of 149th Avenue East in Sumner’s warehouse district. The team traded its long commute for a much shorter one (1.7 miles from high school), and the payoff has already taken root.
“We had 33 girls come out to tryouts — more than we had last year,” Bacha said. “I think that has to do with having the gym closer to the school.”
And not having so many kids filling up the new Auburn Gymnastic Center in Sumner goes a long way, too.
“It’s nice to have that option now, because we don’t have to break down the equipment and set everything up like we would at the high school,” said Sumner coach Kathryn Shimer before practice last week inside the new AGC gym. “We can get a lot more accomplished here, and I think some of the results are because of the work these girls have put in here.”
It’s a good feeling for a coach to be able to bring their team closer to the school, and practice inside the community of Sumner instead of traveling to another city.
For Shimer to see an improved roster — one that has shown stronger results this season, including the Spartans (165.15 points) winning their tri-meet dual with Puyallup (159.7) and North Kitsap (137.4) on Saturday — grow both in size and in talent has to be considered a boon for the team.
Take sophomore Morgan Devine, who spent 15 years participating in gymnastics before taking a year off last year as the wear and tear can be straining on a gymnasts.
“I came back partially because I wanted the team atmosphere you get from high school compared to club,” Devine said. “They’re like sisters to me, and have brought me in under their wings.”
Devine added that the close proximity of the new ACG gym helped make her decision feel right.
“It’s nice and it’s open,” Devine continued. “We’re able to work together and improve so we can do our best at meets.”
Both Bacha and Devine lead Sumner in the all-around events heading into the postseason, with Bacha, a senior, having the chance to improve her eighth-place finish in the vault last year at the Events Center inside the Tacoma Dome.
“It was only eighth place,” Bacha joked about her finish last season. “I guess it is good to have placed before, but I always feel I could do better. That’s what I at least hope to do this year.”
Bacha finished in second in the vault over the weekend with a score of 8.8, which is a solid score to build off of going forward this season.
That’s what the Auburn Gymnastic Center in Sumner has done for the Spartan gymnastics team: created a place that the team can build off of and a place that can help Sumner improve and match some of the top programs in the area and state.