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Sports >  High school sports

High school gymnastics: Ferris senior Maile Rocha takes home top honor at GSL Championships

UPDATED: Wed., June 9, 2021

By Justin Reed The Spokesman-Review

In a truncated Greater Spokane League schedule, the GSL championships Wednesday at the Mead Gymnastics Center is the end of the 2021 season for area gymnasts.

Normally, a regional meet with state berths on the line, the GSL championships are usually part of the rising action of the year.

But for the 2021 season, it became the apex of the schedule as the WIAA decided on no gymnastic state championships due to COVID-19 implications.

But for the GSL gymnasts and coaches, they were just happy to put on a season.

Mead head coach Hanna Bjerkestrand, whose Panthers took fourth place at state in 2020, was glad the seniors received a proper sendoff and that the freshmen were able to experience a taste of high school gymnastics.

One of those GSL seniors, Ferris’ Maile Rocha, took home top honors , winning the all-around with 36.700 points, topping Mt. Spokane seniors Halle Martin (35.625) and Gina Twenge (35.175).

“It is so nice to be able to just come out here and do my best and perform for one last time,” Rocha said.

Erin Clark, Ferris’ co-coach, was impressed with Rocha’s ability to have a clean meet and put together a performance worthy of first-place all-around.

She said Rocha improved as the season went on, fine-tuning the natural talent she possesses.

“I saw her able to get back into the groove of gymnastics. Her skills improved quite a bit, she just cleaned things up her routine,” Clark said. “She was able to perfect it a little bit more.”

The Saxons senior said she was happy of her last high school performance before she heads off to Grand Canyon University for pre-med.

Mt. Spokane assistant Adrien Plummer enjoyed sending off her seniors with a championship to showcase them. She also was impressed with the number of personal bests achieved .

Specifically for Mt. Spokane’s Martin and Twenge, the seniors grabbed wins in three of the four events.

“She is a beam queen for sure. She’s got beautiful lines and I know beam and floor are her two best events,” Plummer said of Twenge. “And those were the two that she won, and she loves, and I’m just happy that she went out and made herself proud for her last performance.

“She’s just a hard worker, and kind of fearless,” Plummer added about Martin. “I know she wanted to be the bar champion. And she came out and did it. So couldn’t be more pleased.”

On the floor, Mt. Spokane occupied the top two spots and tied with a Mead gymnast for the third spot.

Best friends Gina Twenge and Sami Zandt – who have trained together since they were 3 years old – tied for first at 9.600.

“So excited because we had a really strong senior group this year,” Plummer said.

“We have five strong seniors and for them to have to not have state and everything in a shortened season, we were just excited they got any season at all. The five seniors have done gymnastics pretty much their whole life.”

Martin and Mead’s Annalise Thackston scored a 9.550 to tie for third.

On the vault, Mead secured the top spot as freshman Grace Martinsen scored an 8.800.

Bjerkestrand was impressed with Martinsen’s performance as it was only her third time vaulting in a competitive environment.

“She’s just a competitor,” Bjerkestrand said. “She has high expectations for herself, but she always rises to them. She’s a rock star.”

Rocha placed second with an 8.750 and Mead’s Kiyanna Nguyen was third with 8.500.

Twenge’s first-place performance on beam earned her a 9.525, besting second-place Rocha, who had 9.400. Lewis and Clark’s Lyra Mylroie rounded out the top three with a 9.100.

Martin was the first-place finisher on the bars with a 9.300, just beating out Rocha’s 9.150.

Mikah Baggot of Central Valley placed third (8.775).

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