Highline wins Seamount gymnastics

For Dawn Tessandore, her farewell tour as head gymnastics coach at Highline High School has showcased numerous highlights.

On Friday, Feb. 1, the featured event came in the form of a championship at Mount Rainier High School.

Scoring 151.275 points, the Pirates easily plundered their opposition to capture the 2013 Seamount League gymnastics title and an automatic team berth to the Feb. 9 Class 2A/3A bi-district meet at Mount Rainier High School.

Lindbergh notched 141.25 points as the second team qualifier. Renton reached 130.075 for third place and Hazen posted 125.8 for fourth. John F. Kennedy Catholic (119.575), Tyee (106.425) and Evergreen of White Center (101.225) rounded out the seven-team challengers.

"It was a great meet," she expounded. "I couldn't be prouder. The whole team showed up and stepped up besides Kristen (Rodal) and Mia (Alvarez). We have an outside shot at (a state qualifying) third place at district. Sticking (landings) on the bars is one thing we can improve. We also need to do a little clean up on the beam and bars. The vault and floor were good."

All-arounders Kristen Rodal, Mia Alvarez and Laurissa Engelhardt led the title-winning point scorers for Highline.

Rodal captured all four individual events including a stunning dance and bound to 9.75 on the floor exercise en route to the all-around championship at 36.375. Her other first places and scores were the vault (9.4), the uneven parallel bars (8.525) and the balance beam (8.7) as she tuned up for district action.

"I just had fun and tried to do my best," Rodal said. "The mat was so bouncy on the bars that it took us by surprise (with the result of landing falls by Rodal and Alvarez)."

In the Alvarez case, she spent the night shadowing the Rodal achievements with a second place all-around score of 33.75. Alvarez posted runner up finishes on vault (9.05), bars (7.35) and floor (9.15). Her score of 8.2 gained a third place on the balance beam.

"I'm really happy with my meets," the Pirate athlete said. "I have more fun in high school than in club gymnastics because I already know what I can do, so I need to have fun by supporting my teammates."

Englehardt's 28.7 fourth place all-around was built on a fifth place 8.0 on vault plus a pair of sixth places on beam (7.6) and floor (7.9).

For head coach Tessandore, this accomplishment was another jewel of the 2012-2013 season

At senior night in her last home appearance as head coach, Tessandore received a special surprise.

Unbeknown to her, her husband and assistant coach Kevin had arranged for former gymnasts, volunteer coaches and gymnastic teammates of Tessandore's to make a guest appearance at the Highline High School gym.

A group of 15-20 former Highline personalities from around the country fitting the above categories marched in with the team to the super surprise of head coach Tessandore.

"It was so cool," she said. "I knew something was going on, but I didn't know it was going to be this big. Even my dad, who usually does things in the background for gymnastics, but isn't at the meets showed up. Cards and e-mails came from all-around the country. When I had to speak, I got a little flustered at the mike. The Lindbergh coach, Raquel (Rocky) Murray was there as someone I coached when she was little. Even some Kennedy girls that I coached when they were very young showed up."

The 2013 Highline High School Seamount League championship team gymnasts include Anisa Lawrence, Shannon Asplund, Cara Bender, Tajinique Ruffin, Laurissa Earnhardt (Captain), Mia Alvarez, Kristen Rodal (Captain), Sarah Tief, Alyxis Burks, Emma VanAntwerp, Katie Gatto and Andrea Mandt.

Coaches Dawn and Kevin Tesandore are joined by volunteer coaches Ashley Johnson and Al Jiggs Paredes.

Once the district qualifying team member allocations were determined, additional district qualifiers were announced according to the formula of the top five all-arounds from non-qualifying teams as well as the top 10 performers including ties on individual events.

On this basis a trio of Highline School District teams had individuals make the district field.

For John F. Kennedy Catholic, seven athletes qualified, led by Katie Satterberg who earned an all-around position with a 24.575 score. Lancer Amber Hendrickson earned further competition on the vault and beam while teammate Lisa Armitage will compete on the vault. Shannon Brennan and Megan Brennan will swing on the bars. KC athletes Danielle Carnahan and Caroline May will compete on the beam. Carnahan also earned an outright fourth place of 8.65 on the floor exercise.

"We've had a lot of injuries this season," said KC head coach Kim Katzenberger. "Our girls did their best."

Tyee representatives at district are paced by Alexis Sata, whose 24.6 posting pushed her into the all-around contingent. On the bars, Rebecca Greer and Evelyn Dardon were additional Totem qualifiers while Dardon also made the move to district on the floor exercise

"This was their second meet in three days," longtime Totem head coach Gordan Kadric observed. "They did quite well for gymnasts who are not club performers. It is physically challenging."

Karen Luchi of Evergreen (White Center) qualified outright on the bars with a sixth-place 5.45 and also attained district status as an additional qualifier on vault and floor. Nova Benettie joined Luchi in the floor competition.

Wolverine head coach Ashley Wyman and assistant Emily Zimmerman were truly enthusiastic about their team.

"The girls had a great time and worked hard," said Wyman.

Zimmerman added further praise.

"They have great spirit, great energy and are willing to try their hardest. They love watching and learning from others."

Mount Rainier

The Lady Rams also hosted their own South Puget Sound League Class 4A meet and took fifth place.
Mount Rainier scored 162.150 points, while Emerald Ridge of Puyallup won with 172.300 points.
Ava Welch placed second for the Rams in the beam with a score of 9.2 and also tied for third in the vault with a 9.150.
Katya Komissarova tied for third in the bars with an 8.450.

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