All the entries are in and competition is set to begin on Friday at Baton Rouge High in one of the LHSAA’s smallest but most interesting events the state gymnastics meet.
A total of 184 boys and girls gymnasts will cap a year of preparation in the two-day affair. Gymnasts compete for individual championships in five separate divisions as well as for overall boys and girls team championships.
The girls compete in three divisions and the boys in two. Division I competition for both allows for optional routines, while lower divisions perform compulsory routines.
Numbers are up for both boys and girls teams this year, and meet director and BRHS coach Kevin Nee says that often happens in Olympic years.
“We have 32 schools entered this year, which is the most we’ve had since 1997,” Nee said. “I think we’re kind of riding the Olympic year. Everybody is getting geared up for Rio and gymnastics is prominent right now with expectations of seeing the American team (at the Olympics).”
Girls dominate the numbers with 146 girls from 32 schools competing, up from 135 and 26 last year. A total of 38 boys will compete, up from 28 last year.
Seven schools will field full girls teams, with competitors in all divisions. BRHS and Caddo Magnet are the two schools with full boys teams.
Baton Rouge High is a slight favorite in the battle with Caddo for the boys championship. The two teams have met twice in dual meets, and the Bulldogs won both of them.
The boys individual competition in Division I will be wide open. Last year’s all-around champion, Colin Skinner of St. Paul’s, has graduated, and six of last year’s top 10 are returning, led by Chandler Mixon of Highland Baptist, who was second in 2015.
Nee said two new faces in Division I who should do well are Robbie Shamp of Thomas Jefferson and Travis Braud of St. Amant, with Shamp possibly contending for the all-around championship.
Local entrants in the mix for top 10 placings in Division I are Dawson Fontenot of Live Oak (fifth last year), Brandon Nguyen (sixth) and Miguel Alvarado (eighth) of Baton Rouge High, and Brian East of Walker (ninth).
Boys compete in six events, the floor exercise, pommel horse, still rings, vault, parallel bars and horizontal (high) bar, and their all-around scores are their total points in all events.
Girls compete in four events, the vault, uneven bars, balance beam and floor exercise.
“Out of the seven full girls teams, I expect Caddo and St. Joe (St. Joseph’s Academy) to battle it out like they did last,” Nee said.
“One team we haven’t seen at any of our meets this year is Catholic of New Iberia, so I don’t really know what to expect from them.”
Last year’s second-place finisher on the girls side, Madison Averett of French Settlement, leads eight returning top 10 finishers. Local contenders include Delia Ardoin of SJA and Mackenzie Westmoreland of East Ascension.
Freshman Evelyn Boyle of BRHS has finished first all-around in two dual meets this season and could work her way into the top ten in Division 1.
Boys championship competition begins at 1:30 p.m. Friday in the BRHS gymnastics gym. The girls conclude the meet Saturday with Division III beginning at 9:40 a.m., Division II at 12:30 p.m. and Division I at 2:25 p.m. Individual awards follow each division and the team awards ceremony is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.
“There are always a few last minute details to tend to,” Nee said. “We’ll get them done, and on Friday, we’ll be ready to rock and roll.”