High School Sports

Green Hope wins third straight Southwest Wake gymnastics title

Green Hope’s Gretchen Mackie performs on the balance beam during the SWAC gymnastics championship in Raleigh on Friday, January 16, 2015.
Green Hope’s Gretchen Mackie performs on the balance beam during the SWAC gymnastics championship in Raleigh on Friday, January 16, 2015. newsobserver.com

Green Hope’s athletic program is known for teams with depth, and the school’s gymnastics squad was no exception in the Southwest Wake Athletic Conference championships Friday night at the Raleigh School of Gymnastics.

The Falcons were without two of their top gymnasts due to injuries and illnesses, but still managed to win their third straight title. Green Hope scored 114.55 points to defeat runner-up Panther Creek with 112.45 and third-place Fuquay-Varina’s total of 111.25. Middle Creek and Apex tied for fourth with 110.15.

“The girls who were able to compete stepped up,” Green Hope coach Cindy Cotten said. “They performed better than they had done all season, and their scores proved it. I’m very pleased with how they responded.”

Panther Creek sophomore Maria Esposto won the all-around title with a combined score of 38.75. She was the winner on the floor at 9.90 and on the beam at 9.75. She was tied for third in the bars at 9.75 and fifth in the vault at 9.35.

Esposto, who was only fifth in last year’s SWAC finals, adds the prestigious conference title to her state smalls schools championship she won last year (in gymnastics, teams are categorized by the number of athletes rather than school size and she was one of only three for the Catamounts).

“I’m more consistent this year and that makes it easier to show off your skills,” she said. “You have to be able to show off a little on the floor and look like you’re having fun.”

The floor is Esposto’s best event, and she scored a career-high in the finals with a 9.90.

The other two event gold medalists were Green Hope’s Shailyn Ramsey on the bars with a 9.90 and Fuquay-Varina’s Chianna Carrington and Apex’s Kylie Stoffer tying for first in the vault with a 9.50.

The all-around runner-up was Green Hope’s Sabriyya Rouse at 38.55. Rouse was second in both the bars and floor and tied for second on the beam.

With the top five competitors earning medals, Rouse was followed by Middle Creek’s Elizabeth Farin in third, 38.20; Green Hope’s Gretchen Mackie in fourth, 38.10; and Apex’s Maya Aizhulova in fifth, 37.85.

Mackie’s top scores were tied for second on the beam and tied for fourth on the floor.

Green Hope’s Priyanka Kamath didn’t compete due to food poisoning, while Ramsey was limited to the bars. The Falcons would have been happy with any team points from Ramsey and they were rewarded with gold medal points. Her ankle injury prevented her from competing in the floor, beam and vault, but she could stay off her feet on the bars.

“I was very proud of how she competed,” Cotton said. “All the girls did an outstanding job.”