RALEIGH — It was a day for repeat champions Friday as Green Hope and Harnett Central each continued their reign as N.C. high school state gymnastics champions in their respective divisions.
Green Hope was led once again by a freshman to is third consecutive large team title, while Harnett Central captured its fourth straight small teams title for the four-year-old program.
Green Hope freshman Hayden Hughes wasn’t around to receive her trophy as the top all around gymnast at Raleigh School of Gymnastics, but teammate Shailyn Ramsey quickly sent Hughes a text alerting her of the achievement.
“I’m glad she was able to win her freshman year,” said Ramsey, a junior who also won the all around title as a freshman. “She was so excited. She was in disbelief, but her scores really helped our team to win.”
Hughes, who was one of several gymnasts who had to leave the competition early to head to a club gymnastics event in Tennessee, scored 39.0 all around and placed first in floor with a score of 9.9.
Ramsey, a junior who also won the all around title as a freshman and finished second to Hughes Friday with an all around score of 38.95, has been an integral part in all three Falcons titles.
She placed first in vault (9.65), bars (9.9) and beam (9.8) to help lead Green Hope to a team score of 154.7, ahead of Cap Eight champion Millbrook (149.6), Leesville Road (147.75), Lee County (139.6) and Enloe (137.5).
“The big team that we were a little worried about was Millbrook,” said Green Hope coach Cindy Cotten. “We always worry about (2011 champion) Millbrook. ... That’s huge for us to be able to do this three years in a row, especially for those freshmen that came on board that first year.
“They are definitely going to try to push through and finish up their senior year so they can win all four years, so now that they’ve won it three years in a row it’s kind of putting a little pressure on them to do it at least the one more year, and hopefully we can continue it as long as the girls continue to train hard and push for it.”
Millbrook was led by Lydia Sobhan, who placed third in the all around (38.9) and in the top three of each event. Leesville Road’s Gabby Kisner placed second in floor with 9.75.
Middle Creek’s Alliah Harrison was the all around champion for the all-stars division during the large teams session with a score of 38.4. She was followed by Apex’s Jesse Smith (38.0) and Sanderson’s Jackie Rogers (36.95).
Harrison took first place in the bars (9.6) and floor (9.85) events, while Smith placed first in vault (9.65). Jacksonville Northside’s Cassidy Santariga won the beam title with a score of 9.7.
Harrison placed second in vault (9.6), followed by Apex’s Kylie Stoffer (9.55). Stoffer also finished third in floor (9.5).
Smith placed second in bars (9.45) and floor (9.6), Rogers placed second in beam (9.5) and Holly Springs’ Caitlin Kozak finished third in bars (9.35).
Panther Creek’s Esposto dominates, Harnett Central repeats among small teams
Panther Creek freshman Maria Esposto took the all-around title during the small teams competition, winning four of five state titles awarded at the meet.
Esposto won bars (9.7), beam (9.95) and floor (9.85) en route to a 38.9 all-around finish.
“I didn’t want to expect too much. I didn’t want to jinx it or anything,” she said of her first high school championship meet. “I was kind of hoping I would get on the podium, so getting first was definitely exciting.”
Esposto lead Panther Creek to a third place team finish with a total of 111.1 points, behind second-place Wake Forest (112.5) and four-time champion Harnett Central (112.85). Clayton finished fourth with 109.95 points, followed by Fuquay-Varina (109.2) and Wakefield (104.3).
“We really pulled through because we’ve been practicing really hard. We practiced every day this week,” said Harnett Central junior Alex Raynor, who won the vault title with a score of 9.6 and finished third in floor (9.65).
Her teammate Sonny Nelson, the Trojans’ lone senior gymnast, finished second all around (38.45), and took second place in bars (9.65), beam (9.8) and floor (9.7).
“This is how I really wanted to end my high school career -- well gymnastics in general, this is the last gymnastics meet that I’ll ever do -- so I really wanted to end it on a good note,” Nelson said.
Wake Forest’s Marielle Curcio finished third all around (38.2) and placed third in vault (9.5).
Clayton’s Sloane Patterson finished third in bars and beam with scores of 9.6 and 9.75, respectively. Fuquay-Varina’s Tia Roy placed second in vault (9.55).
Princeton’s Cierra Davis led the second session all-stars all around competition with a score of 38.35, while also winning the bars title (9.75). West Johnston’s Lauren Lushene finished second all around (38.25) and won beam (9.85), while Cleveland’s Ta’Nia Thompson finished third all around (38.2) and won vault (9.8).
Garner’s Lauren Rogers won the floor title with a score of 9.8.
Thompson finished second on bars (9.65) and third on beam (9.35). Davis placed second in beam (9.65) and third in vault (9.4). Wilmington Hoggard’s Tara Schwagerl finished second in vault (9.45), and tied for third in floor with Franklin Academy’s Emerson Schulz (9.6). Schulz also finished third in bars (9.55), and Lushene placed second in floor (9.75).