The weather this winter was no friend of Greater Spokane League gymnasts. But hardy souls that they are, the competitors soldiered through.
Mead, in particular, packed a season’s worth of competition into three weeks to claim its fourth league title in five years. It marked a championship return as head coach of the Panthers for Laurie Chadwick.
Chadwick coached Mead for 11 years beginning in 1986. The Panthers won four straight league titles between 1987 and 1990 and she was at the helm of three.
She also coached Lakeside (Nine Mile Falls) to GSL titles in 2001 and 2002 before returning to Mead as an assistant and becoming head coach again this season. Last Wednesday, behind Taylor Gray, who won the all-around and two individual events, the Panthers edged defending champion University 168.025-166.05 for Chadwick’s sixth GSL championship as head coach.
“It was a really, really weird year,” Chadwick said of this year’s snow-delayed season. “Our first meet was Dec. 10 and our next competition was not until Jan. 15.”
During two weeks of snow cancellations, Mead gymnasts practiced when and if they could. The Panthers had five meets between Jan. 15 through Feb. 4. They won them all.
“What it felt like is we had a preseason and competition, then it felt like the preseason started all over again,” Chadwick said. “Competitions back to back are tough. On the other hand, it’s the time of year when we’re working hard on routines.”
Now Mead and U-Hi get to do it all over again Saturday at Mead Middle School. The Region 4A and 3A-1A meets advance one team along with individual athletes to state. The Panthers and Titans are favored in the 4A and Shadle Park will contend in the 3A-1A.
“I don’t necessarily think we’re No. 1,” Chadwick said. “University is very good and on a different day could beat us. The Feb. 4 meet was intense. They’d do well and we wouldn’t in an event, then we’d do well and they wouldn’t. You never knew what the outcome was going to be.”
Four-year senior veterans Gray, Kaitlin Wilburn and Katie Miller and state veteran Lauren Budig have been bolstered by first-year junior Rachel Becker, and freshmen Kendra Sherman and Sara Benson.
The Titans have similar depth, led by Stacie Davis, Kaleigh Campbell and Denel Lang.
A notch back is Central Valley and state veteran Emma Vidmar, Brittany Szoke and Lauren Speers.
Shadle freshman Alana Norman emerged as the best all-around performer in league, winning all six meets, and will be a 3A favorite. North Central’s Christy Grorud and Lakeside freshman Anande Egland were other top GSL performers from that classification. Others to watch are Shadle’s Kali Young and Melissa Edmunds.
Saturday’s competition begins at 10 a.m. for 3A. The 4A meet is scheduled for a 2:30 p.m. start.
“You’ve got to be prepared and hope it carries you through enough to do what you’re supposed to on that day,” Chadwick said.
With Tuesday’s 63-49 win at Cheney, West Valley boys basketball coach Jamie Nilles and his staff reached a milestone. The victory was the 200th in Nilles’ 11th year at the helm. The Eagles have gone 200-69 since 1999, with seven state-qualifying appearances. The victory kept WV (12-4, 8-2) a solid third in the Great Northern League. Friday WV has a pivotal game at home against first-place Clarkston.
Here are this year’s state basketball allocations from Eastern regions and districts:
4A – Three boys and three girls teams from GSL-Columbia Basin Big Nine region.
3A – Two each from GSL-CBBN.
2A – Two each from Great Northern League.
1A – Three each from Northeast A-Caribou Trail region.
2B – Three each from District 7, two each from District 9.
1B – Four each from District 7 (I had the numbers incorrect in Tuesday’s notebook), two each from District 9.