Mount Rainier captures gym meet

FEDERAL WAY - Top three all-around performances led Mount Rainier to a Class 4A gymnastic meet victory against South Puget Sound League teams from Federal Way and Kent-Meridian plus non-league Olympia in competition held on Wednesday, Dec. 12, in the closely quartered Federal Way auxiliary gym due to scheduling conflicts surrounding the main gym.

The Rams outdistanced the host Eagles 152.45 - 140.5. Kent Meridian's Royals (140.15) and the Olympia Bears (137.8) pulled in the final spots.

Despite graduating many seniors -- including several level 10 stars -- from last season's Class 4A state third place squad, the Rams could still be in the hunt for SPSL honors.

"We've come up seven points in two meets," said Mount Rainier head coach Ali Kestle. "Tonight (due to the unusual configuration of the gym and close quarters) we didn't feel comfortable throwing all our event additions in. We still have some scoring potential. There are more beginners this year, but we started higher than expected. We may have underestimated ourselves. Finishing at or near the top is certainly possible as we develop. Our top returners are all-around performers Kerrie Heckel, Ava Welch and Yekaterina Komissarova."

On this night, it was this trio of Rams that set the tone for the proceedings.

Heckel scored 33.6 to earn the top all-around standing with an 8.5 tie for first with Komissarova on the balance beam as her top finish. Heckel was the runner up on the uneven parallel bars at 8.1 while adding a third place 8.7 on the balance beam. A third place 8.3 tie on the vault closed out her scoring.

"My beam was an improvement," she said. "I connected my series better. Our team has really improved, so far."

Closely connecting her scores for a 33.5 second place on all-around was Welch, who swung to an 8.2 first place on the bars. Welch just missed the floor exercise title, bounding to a 9.0 second place finish and also added an 8.35 second spot on the vault. An 8.0 fourth place on the balance beam added to her all-around points.

"Bars was my best element tonight," she observed. "I used my new release off the top bar. We just keep working to be better."

Komissarova commanded control for a 32.1 all-around compilation in third place, rounding ot the talented top trio. An 8.5 first place tie with teammate Heckel on the beam buoyed her accomplishments. Komissarova notched an 8.0 sixth place on the floor as another top six finish.

"Beam was my best, so far," she said. "It felt solid. My best element as an illusion (turn). Support from team members was awesome."

For Federal Way head coach Jamie Tough, her observations of her team involved grittiness.

"I have some really tough girls," she said. "Tia Thomas is a really great athlete that has quickly learned gymnastics after trying it for the first time when she began here. Madeline Grace is also tough. This was her first meet of the season. I'm glad we survived tonight."

Grace captured a first place 8.45 to earn the vault title on the way to a 30.25 fifth place all-around. Grace took fourth at 7.3 on the bars plus a fifth place tie of 7.5 on the beam.

Thomas danced to a 9.1 first place on the floor as part of her 29.65 sixth place cumulative all-around point total. A fifth place 8.2 tie on the vault also showcased her individual event talents.

On the bars, Tiffany McNeary earned an individual event fifth place at 7.2.

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