Garner Cleveland: Sports

Clayton, Panther Creek win state gymnastics championships

Zophia Jackowski of West Johnston in the floor competition during the North Carolina High School State Gymnastics Championships in Raleigh.
Zophia Jackowski of West Johnston in the floor competition during the North Carolina High School State Gymnastics Championships in Raleigh. newsobserver.com

Clayton’s upset of Green Hope in the state Large Team gymnastics championship on Saturday at the Raleigh School of Gymnastics was so improbable that not even Comets coach Margaret Morgan-Lee believed it would happen. Green Hope had won the last three state titles and had not lost a meet all season.

But the Falcons fell .35 points – Clayton won 150.4 to 150.05 – from a fourth consecutive championship and the Comets came out on top.

“Not expected, totally not expected,” Morgan-Lee said. “Armand (Kranick of RSG) came up to me and asked me on floor, ‘Do you think you have a chance to win this thing? I was like, ‘Not a chance.’

“When it came out, I was very surprised. Pleased, but surprised.”

Clayton placed three gymnasts in the top 10 in the all-around to claim the first state title for the program. Plus, this was the first year Clayton participated in the Large Team competition.

In Large Team, schools can enter five gymnasts in each event, with the top four scores counting to the team score. In Small Team, three or four athletes per school compete, with the top three scores counting. The state championships are not affiliated with the N.C. High School Athletic Association as the NCHSAA does not have gymnastics as a sanctioned sport.

“Shocking,” Morgan-Lee said. “First time in Large Team, and (we) came in and won it.”

And how will the Comets celebrate?

“We’re going to Waffle House,” sophomore Sloane Patterson said with a laugh.

Patterson finished third in all-around and was in the top four in all events. Madyson Scott tied for fifth in all-around, with freshman Jessica Joslyn tying for 10th.

The Comets also got clutch performances from Kaitlyn Cron (tied for sixth on beam) and Avery Moser (sixth on floor) to hold off Green Hope.

“It’s really big for us,” Patterson said. “Last year, we got fourth, and to come and win conference and states is really cool. We’re a better team as a whole, and there are more of us.”

Davis shines in Small Team competition

Corinth Holders junior Lydia Davis was the star of the first night of the meet, earning a perfect 10.0 on floor and winning the all-around title to cap a stellar comeback from a back injury.

In addition to her floor title, Davis tied for first with Middle Creek’s Elizabeth Farin on bars and tied for first with Farin and Panther Creek’s Maria Esposto on beam. Plus, she was second to Esposto on vault.

In Small Team All-Stars, Ta’Nia Thompson of Cleveland won all-around, vault and floor, while Cierra Davis of Princeton won bars and Tara Schwagerl of Hoggard won floor.

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