TACOMA — Both ends of the North Kitsap High School gymnastics spectrum experienced the air of the state meet this weekend as freshman Melissa Kunold and senior Kai Morrow made the trip.
NK head coach Kris Goodfellow said both took the season’s culmination in Tacoma in stride.
“I was especially pleased with Melissa, going in as a freshman, that she wasn’t a bundle of nerves,” Goodfellow said. “All in all, it was probably the most relaxed I’ve been and most fun I’ve had going into the state meet.”
The competition on this year’s 4A stage was elite. The 3A/2A combined meet took the two session format this year while the 4A meet was just one, leaving fewer allocations but increasing the talent in the pool.
North’s Morrow and Kunold were right in the mix.
Each Viking competed in two events as they qualified individually from the Region III meet Feb. 9-10 — Kunold on vault and bars, Morrow on beam and bars.
“Me and Kai (Morrow) were talking before the meet and we thought we should just try to have fun and not worry about the scores,” Kunold said. “Little things she said helped me stay relaxed.”
With that approach, the NK scores took care of themselves.
Both gymnasts turned in their best on the bars, while Morrow’s marks on the beam Friday vaulted her into Saturday’s finals.
“(Morrow’s beam routine) isn’t incredibly difficult, but it’s very solid,” Goodfellow said. “She does it just like she’s standing on the ground, I’m sure that’s what got her into the finals.”
Morrow — who came on late in the season due to a bruised knee sustained in preseason — finished the beam Friday in sixth place with a score of 9.475. Unexpectedly, Goodfellow said, that moved her into finals competition where the slate was cleared. On Day 2, Morrow only scored a 9.45 but moved up to fifth place. Carrie Dragland of Bothell took first with a score of 9.65.
“(Morrow) has always wanted to remain true to herself … I don’t think she sees it so much as a competition with the other girls,” Goodfellow said. “As a high school coach, those are things the girls can take with them, that ability to set goals, work hard and follow through to achieve those goals.”
Both Vikings achieved a goal in their best scores of the year at state on the bars. Morrow threw a few new skills, Goodfellow said, and came up with a score of 7.675 while Kunold put together a score of 7.75, good enough for 24th place — Morrow took 25th. Kelsey Walsh of Prarie took first with a score of 9.6.
In team scores, Woodinville took the 4A title, Mead came in second and Puyallup finished third.
“You can tell everyone is more competitive, really trying to get their spots,” Kunold said of what sets state apart. “It helped me realize where I need to be for next year.”
Though the goals haven’t been set yet for 2008, the bar has definitely been raised, Goodfellow said.
“It was a really nice way to end the season,” she said.