High School Sports

Tate rakes up the medals on individual day at 4A gymnastics final

Auburn's Ali Tate competes in the floor event during the gymnastics state competition at the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, Wash., on Friday, Feb. 16, 2018.
Auburn's Ali Tate competes in the floor event during the gymnastics state competition at the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, Wash., on Friday, Feb. 16, 2018. joshua.bessex@gateline.com

After her disappointing finish on Friday, Ali Tate felt drained and sluggish.

All it took to get her back on track Saturday was being back on the mat for her floor exercise. After that, the Auburn senior was set up for a historic day at the WIAA 4A gymnastics finals at the Tacoma Dome Exhibition Pavilion.

Tate won three individual events in her final state championships, taking titles in the floor exercise, vault and uneven bars. She missed a chance to sweep in her final event, the balance beam.

“I came in and felt heavy and just out of it,” Tate said. “But as soon as I got on the floor — I love floor — so as soon as I got on, (it was) time to shine.”

And few have ever shined brighter at the WIAA gymnastic championships. After a disappointing fourth-place finish in Friday’s all-around event — an event that saw her contending until stumbling on her dismount in the uneven bars — she responded in the individual events.

Tate dazzled in the floor exercise, posting 9.650 as the first gymnast of the day in the event. Her score left the field chasing it for the rest of the day, setting a trend for the championships.

“I love starting with floor because it’s fun,” Tate said. “Fun always runs in the back of my mind … just doing it for fun.”

That snowballed with winning performances in the vault (scoring 9.725) and the uneven bars (9.625).

That gave her a chance for a sweep in the balance beam, not that Tate had much of an idea of that possibility herself.

“I had a little bit of a feeling because everybody looked all happy and stuff,” she said. “But I’m not worrying about it. You guys might worry about it, but I’m just going to have fun and lay back. I don’t pay attention.”

Woodinville’s Kylie Mossett helped deny Tate a clean sweep, taking the balance beam with a score of 9.350, just ahead of Mt. Rainier’s Naleia Gomes. It was the second balance beam title for Mossett, who won as a sophomore in 2016.

Tate took sixth in the balance beam.

It was the first time a Class 4A gymnast had won three individual state titles since 2009, when Kentlake’s Kayla Shira won in the uneven bars, floor exercise and shared the state title in the balance beam with Woodinville’s Hailey Wells.

No gymnast has swept all four individual events since Kennedy’s Anissa Madrid did so in Class 3A in 2004.

Lexi McKnight, the Kentridge senior who won the Class 4A all-around title on Friday, had an early day in the individual events . McKnight, who has had two surgeries on her left elbow, dislocated her right elbow in the vault -- her second of four events of the day -- forcing her to scratch the rest.

Though she scored 9.625 in the vault, placing second to Tate, it was a disappointment for McKnight, and she dabbed away tears while a trainer examined her.

Afterward, McKnight said she thought she had damaged the ulnar collateral ligament in the elbow -- the same ligament she’d had surgery on in her other elbow.

“I was disappointed I didn’t get to do floor because i was planning to do one of my new skills,” said McKnight, who also finished sixth in the uneven bars. “But everything happens for a reason.”

But the injury couldn’t take away her all-around title from Friday night.

“It was amazing,” she said. “It was a really good experience. I’m just glad I had a night like that yesterday and not today.”

Other area gymnasts who stood out included, Kentlake’s Cecilia Loudermilk took second in the uneven bars, posting a 9.600. Emerald Ridge’s Bailey Miller placed fourth in the balance beam with a 9.200. Kentridge’s Lizzy McKnight and Auburn Mountainview’s Ariana Martinez tied for fifth in the floor exercise with a 9.550.

But the day unquestionably belonged to Tate.

“I’m very satisfied,” she said. “It’s great redemption.”