Heritage's Atwell adds to gymnastics medal haul

Senior adds vault, floor titles to reach nine career state championships

By Paul Valencia, Columbian high school sports reporter

Published:

 

State Gymnastics Championships

TACOMA — When Britni Atwell walked out of the Tacoma Dome's Exhibition Hall on Saturday afternoon, she walked away from her high school career as the most decorated gymnast in Southwest Washington history.

She also accomplished something no athlete in the 45-year history of the state gymnastics championship meet had accomplished.

Atwell, a senior from Heritage, won the Class 4A state vault competition for the fourth consecutive year.

She liked that so much that about an hour later, she four-peated again, winning the floor exercise.

"We're going crazy," she said.

Yes, something that had never happened before, happened twice on the same day and by the same athlete.

"I'm like in awe. I'm shocked. I'm proud of myself," Atwell said. "To defend my titles. To keep my titles. I don't even know."

Her eight individual titles as well as the all-around title she earned Friday night give her nine state championships in her career — tied for second most in the history of this event.

"It's a-MAY-zing," she said, emphasizing the 'May' because that's how all Heritage gymnasts say the word, she said.

Heritage coach Rachel Tamayo joked that maybe Atwell could come back next year, too.

"No," Atwell said. "I don't want to be a super senior."

Tamayo won't have to worry about losing all of her talent, though.

Sophomore Nicole Moss won her first state championship Saturday on the uneven bars. She scored a 9.675, then had to wait to see if that score would hold up for the last five competitors.

"We were all really anxious," Moss said. "It was intense."

She was thrilled with her score. The title was a bonus.

"When they flashed that score, everyone was smiling and hugging me. It was a good moment," she said.

Moss finished third on the vault and third on the balance beam, giving her three medals Saturday.

Atwell got four medals. She posted a winning score of 9.70 for the floor and 9.825 for the vault. She was second on the beam with a 9.6 and third on the bars with a personal-best 9.475. In fact, putting all her scores together Saturday, she was better than her four scores Friday when she won the all-around.

"I just went out and did what I do, and it turned out to be better than I've done before," Atwell said. "I don't know how to explain it. I worked 16 years to say I was good at this."

Tamayo beamed with pride for the Timberwolves.

"They put Heritage on the map again," the coach said. "I couldn't be prouder. This is what coaching is all about."

Union's Jazmin Harris finished seventh on the vault. Heritage's Brooke Atwell, Britni's sister, took eighth.

Suren Kanchanavaleerat of Union finished sixth on the uneven bars.

Jessica Curley of Union tied for eighth on the balance beam.

In the 3A finals, Columbia River's Shaylan Hawthorne finished in a tie for 11th on the vault. Teammate Haylee Castro was 15th on the floor exercise.

Prairie's Lexi Bottomley reached finals in two events. She took 16th on the uneven bars and the vault.

CLASS 4A STATE GYMNASTICS

Tacoma Dome Exhibition Hall

Individual event finals (Champions, and local finishers)

Vault — 1, Britni Atwell (Heritage) 9.825; 3, Nicole Moss (Heritage) 9.65; 7, Jazmin Harris (Union) 9.325; 8, Brooke Atwell (Heritage) 9.225.

Bars — 1, Nicole Moss (Heritage) 9.675; 3, Britni Atwell (Heritage) 9.425; 6, Suren Kanchanavaleerat (Union) 9.30.

Beam — 1, Candace Ho (Newport) 9.625, 2, Britni Atwell (Heritage) 9.6; 3, Nicole Moss (Heritage) 9.55; 8 (tie), Jessica Curley (Union) 9.225

Floor — 1, Britni Atwell (Heritage) 9.7.

CLASS 3A STATE GYMNASTICS

Tacoma Dome Exhibition Hall

Individual event finals (Champions, and local finishers)

Vault — 1, Kelsey Jaquish (Kamiakin) 9.675; 11 (tie), Shaylan Hawthorne (Columbia River) 9.35.

Bars — 1, Olivia Bannerot (Enumclaw) 9.375; 16, Lexi Bottomley (Prairie) 8.35.

Beam — 1, Nykaela Dodson (Sammamish) 9.525.

Floor — 1, Mia Alverez (Highline) 9.625; 15, Haylee Castro (Columbia River) 9.175.