Vail gymnasts set sights on state
It’s gut check time for high school gymnasts these next two weeks, with state-qualifying tournaments wrapping up this weekend, before the 4A State Gymnastics in Thornton on Nov. 1.
For a few, select young women from the Vail Valley who compete for Summit High School’s gymnastic team, this weekend’s 4A Mountain League Open in Pueblo is the most pivotal meet of the season. Only the top six 4A schools qualify for state, and while Summit is currently ranked ninth in terms of points, the margin between sixth place and 12th place in 4A is two points.
“Saturday is our big push, in terms of team competition,” said Summit coach Beth Flaherty. “Because they figure it on average, it will have a huge impact on our average, if we have a high score this weekend.”
Individually, two Battle Mountain student-athletes have already qualified for state – senior Claudia Bouvier and junior Katie Lindbloom, who each compete in the all-around competition.
“Claudia is our only senior, and has consistently been our top athlete, all year,” said Flaherty. “She has led the team.”
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At last weekend’s Jeffco League Championship Meet, Bouvier was awarded second team, all-conference honors in the all-around, for finishing in the top 12 in terms of points. Each gymnast is given a ranking, determined by the average of their best five scores in their respective events for the season. Bouvier was the first Tiger gymnast ever to finish in the top 12 in the Jeffco.
Bouvier, who also will compete in varsity skiing for Battle Mountain this year, is still undecided about whether to do skiing in college, or whether to try and walk on a gymnastics team, or maybe try cheerleading.
“I was thinking, if I got to a school with a big football program, I might do cheerleading,” said Bouvier. “I have a much better chance of skiing for a Division I team than I do doing gymnastics, but I might try to walk on somewhere.”
On the year, the Tigers are 1-8 in league competition, although it should be noted that Summit competes in the 5A Jeffco League, with three other 4A schools and eight 5A contenders. For state-qualifying, the Tigers are pitted only against other 4A teams.
“It’s helpful, having the bigger schools pushing us to do better, but it also is tough because the scoring is tougher with 5A teams and it makes our opportunity to get to state that much harder,” said Bouvier, who finished in seventh place on the balance beam, and ninth in the vault at last year’s state meet.
Lindbloom, the other individual state qualifier from Minturn was excited to get her second state-qualifying score in the all-around last weekend, but will be even more excited if the team has a strong showing in Pueblo this weekend and qualifies as a team.
“We qualified as a team last year. So hopefully we do the same this year,” said Lindbloom, who has qualified for state the past two years and finished 16th last year in the floor competition. “I’m really looking forward to [state]. I hope to do well on floor again.”
To qualify for state individually, gymnasts must notch two state-qualifying scores throughout the season; for all-around, a qualifying score is 32 and above; for vault and floor, 8.5 is good; for beam and bars an 8.0 is sufficient.
Other notable Eagle County athletes who are vying with the team for a state berth this weekend are sophomore Marki Sindlinger, and freshmen Kendall Wilson and Kelly Scholl.
“We have our work cut out for us this weekend, but I’m not counting us out yet,” said Flaherty. “Last year was the first time that the team had gone to state. We were in the same position last year. It was super close. It was right down to the wire.”
At last year’s state competition the Tigers placed fourth and missed third place by .025 points, or as Flaherty points out, less than a toe point.
Nate Peterson is a sports writer for the Vail Daily. He can be reached at (970) 949-0555, ext. 608 or via firstname.lastname@example.org.