GYMNASTIC NOTES - CBBN OUTLOOK
Kamiakin definitely had a stellar gymnastics season last time around, winning its first 3A state crown.
Can the Braves do it again?
Coach Sarah Garrett and assistant coach Shannon Wills are returning with a highly athletic crew.
Chief among the squad is junior Michelle Fletcher, stepping into the gymnasium fresh from a cross country season during which she placed 11th overall in the 3A state championship race.
Fletcher excelled last season in gymnastics, placing sixth in the all-around, seventh in floor, 10th in the bars, 14th in beam and tying with Shadle Park's Alana Norman for the state title in vault.
Also on tap is sophomore Danielle Brandon, who took 14th last season in the all-around and clinched the state beam title with a score of 9.575.
Juniors Jessica Anderson and Brittany Lofton also return from last year's varsity team. Lofton competed on the bars at state, and Anderson was entered in the bar and floor events.
And like Fletcher, Brandon and Anderson arrive with a fall sports season in-pocket. Brandon finished 13th in the 3A state diving finals, and Anderson was 17th.
The Braves' new faces include junior Sarah Rowell and freshmen Lucera Cox, Jordan Garner and Maria Petsch.
Meanwhile, it's a rebuilding year for Hanford/Richland coach Brett Garland. Even though the core of talent should provide a solid base for the program, collecting a consistent roster has proven a bit slippery.
"Every single day is different," Garland said of the fluctuating turnout.
But of the two schools, Hanford might be the first to assume a concrete shape.
Among those assembled so far in the Hanford camp are Kassidee Ellis and sophomore Paige McClendon, members of the 2011 WIAA 4A/3A large varsity division cheerleading squad.
"Ellis is a former varsity member who went to state two years ago as a sophomore and is back her senior year," Garland said. "We'll see how she does this year."
As for the Bombers, junior Carly Garland, a club gymnast who placed 19th at the 4A state diving finals, will make another state run.
Carly took sixth in the state 4A all-around, eighth in bars, seventh in beam. She also tied for 9th place in the vault and posted a respectable finish in the floor event.
And Southridge, whose journey ended at regionals last year, should put up some good numbers this season, and the Suns have already shown themselves dedicated towards steadily improving their skill set.
"All we can ask for is improvement from week to week and the girls are living up to that," Southridge coach Heidi Fryer said.
Leading the Suns are junior co-captains Hannah Linde and Kayla Melvin. Linde competed in the vault, floor and beam at regionals last year, while Melvin competed in floor.
"(Melvin's) looking to add the vault as well," Fryer said. "She's increased her speed and technique on vault."
Meanwhile, senior Nicole Claver and freshman Kiya Bjorge are poised for breakout seasons.
Fryer said Claver and several others in her program trained in the offseason at clubsand are "starting off in a much better conditioning shape."
Fryer is certain she has a star on her hands and noted that Bjorge is "kicking butt" so far this season, outdistancing her nearest CBBN meet competitors by an average of two points in the all-around.
Bjorge, a product of Garland's Gymnastics in Kennewick, tied for 19th (36.40 points) in the USA Gymnastics Junior 'D' Western Championships this past May in San Diego. She had notable finishes in bar (fourth, 9.400), vault (tied for 12th, 9.250), beam (tied for 38th, 8.825) and floor (21st, 8.925).
"I'm excited to see what she can do, definitely," Fryer said.
2011 state returners
4A: Richland -- Carly Garland, jr., all around (6th, 36.4), vault (tied 9th, 9.2), bars (8th, 6.45) beam (7th, 8.20), floor (tied 32nd, 9.2).
3A: Kamiakin -- Jessica Anderson, jr., all around (107th, 11.450), floor ( 95th, 6.550), bars (92nd, 4.90); Danielle Brandon, soph., all around (14th, 35.650), beam (1st, 9.575); Michelle Fletcher, jr., all-around (6th, 36.625), vault (tied 1st, 9.60), bars (10th, 8.90), beam (14th, 8.45), floor (7th, 9.475); Brittany Lofton, jr., (130th, 6.90), bars (tied 41st, 6.90).
2012 state meet info
Where: Tacoma Dome
When: Feb. 17-18
Big Nine state allocations: (Team entries: 1; All-around entries: 2; Individual entries: 5).