News-Star: Sports

Clayton wins second straight Greater Neuse gymnastics title

Clayton’s Sloane Patterson performs on the uneven bars during the GNRC gymnastics championship in Raleigh on Friday, January 16, 2015.
Clayton’s Sloane Patterson performs on the uneven bars during the GNRC gymnastics championship in Raleigh on Friday, January 16, 2015. newsobserver.com

Clayton’s gymnastics program signaled the possible start of a dynastic reign as the Comets won their second straight Greater Neuse Conference title in Friday’s results at the Raleigh School of Gymnastics.

Clayton returned a young roster from last year’s title, but the Comets still managed to claim the 2015 championship by a comfortable margin of 111.75 over Harnett Central’s 108.5. That projects as possibly the front end of a streak longer than two years in a row.

“We’ve got a young team with more young talented girls coming up,” said Clayton coach Margaret Morgan-Lee. “I thought we had a good chance of winning the conference title, but you never know about the other teams. I think Clayton can be strong for a long time.”

The next four teams in the standings were West Johnston, Garner, Rolesville and Southeast Raleigh.

West Johnston senior Zophia Jackowski won the all-around title with a score of 38.30 as she captured three individual titles. She won the floor and the beam with 9.70 scores and the vault with a 9.35. She was fourth in the bars at 9.55.

Clayton sophomores Sloane Patterson and Madyson Scott were among the top five medalists in the all-around.

“Sloane and Madyson are the anchors of our team,” Morgan-Lee said. “The other girls also helped score points in other events. I was very pleased with their performances.”

Patterson was the all-around runner-up with a 37.80 total that was highlighted by a win on the bars at 9.7. She also was second on the beam, 9.60; tied for second in the floor, 9.40; and fifth in the vault, 9.10.

Scott was third in the bars (9.60), tied for fourth in the floor (9.35) and fifth in the beam (9.30).

Other area all-around medalists were Southeast Raleigh’s Raven Cheatham in third place at 37.35 and Harnett Central’s Alex Raynor in fifth at 36.55.

Cheatham was a one-girl team as she scored off the Bulldogs’ points with medals in three of four events. She was second in both the vault (9.20) and bars (9.65), tied for third in the beam (9.40).

Jackowski said she owed her title to her injured teammate and friend, Lauren Lushene. Jackowksi gave up competitive gymnastics after eighth grade and focused on dance the past three years. Lushene convinced her to come out for the gymnastics team as a senior.

“It was amazing competing for my school this year,” she said. “My best friend was injured, so I was competing for her, too.”

Jackowski said her balance beam gold medal surprised her the most. She had the spent the least amount of time training on the beam in her comeback season. “I was just winging it out there,” she said with a laugh, “but it turned out good.”

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