Two newcomers to the LHSAA state gymnastics championship meet captured individual all-around titles and the Baton Rouge High team gave coach Kevin Nee his 23rd team championship on Friday at the BRHS gymnastics facility.
Robbie Shamp of Thomas Jefferson edged Travis Braud of St. Amant in the Division I All-Around competition, 79.80 to 79.60. The two battled back and forth, with each winning three of the six events. Braud’s 14.50 score on the vault was the highest individual score of the day, but Shamp outscored Braud 13.80 to 12.40 in the horizontal bar to pull away to the victory.
The more experienced Division I gymnasts compete at Level 10, performing optional routines. The Division II competitors perform compulsory routines at Level Five. The Division II All-Around champion was Xavin Weatherspoon of Baton Rouge High, followed by Ethan Clapp of E.D. White and Kane Anderson of Caddo Magnet.
Caddo won five of the top 10 places in Division II, but that wasn’t enough to catch BRHS in the team scoring. The Bulldogs ran up 176.10 points in Division II and 206 points in Division I for a total of 382.50. Caddo finished with 168.70 in Division II, 180.90 in Division I, and 349.60 overall.
“It never gets old,” Nee said. “I love this. I can’t put one (championship) above the other. You always remember the first one, but I know this one is awful sweet.
“I’m impressed with my freshman class, and the new guys in Division I also stepped up. I know when they come in and watch people like Travis and Robbie, it inspires them.”
The two individual winners are both freshmen, but they couldn’t have taken a more different path to the medal stand. Shamp has been involved in gymnastics since he was two years old. Weatherspoon’s career began in August when he tried out for the Baton Rouge High team. Next week Shamp will head for Battle Creek, Michigan, for the national championship meet. Weatherspoon will be back in the school gym practicing for next year when he’ll move up to Division I.
Both winners agreed that their first LHSAA state championship was a fun event.
“I really enjoyed it. It was a lot of fun competing against everybody,” Shamp said. “My best event today was the floor (exercise) which it usually is. My weakest was the pommel horse.”
Shamp scored 14.00 in the floor exercise and finished a full point behind Braud (13.30 to 12.30) in the pommel horse.
Braud and Shamp took first and second in all the events except the still rings and parallel bars. Third place finisher Kael Donley of Haynes Academy in Metairie finished second in the rings, and Dawson Fontenot of Live Oak took second in the bars and fourth place in the All-Around.
Baton Rouge High’s top Division I finishers were Brandon Nguyen (7th place) and Miguel Alvarado (8th place).
In Division II, Clapp won the pommel horse and still rings, Kane Anderson of Caddo won the vault and finished second in pommel horse and rings, and Aaron McCrory of BRHS won the horizontal bar.
All-Around champion Weatherspoon won the floor exercise and parallel bars.
“I tell my gymnasts that everyone has a tool box, and some have more tools-more hammers or wrenches-than others,” Nee said. “Xavin Weatherspoon has a lot of tools. He is really a talented kid.”
Anderson finished third in Division II, followed by Chase Alberes of St. Amant and Morton. The fifth through eighth place finishers were all from Caddo Magnet, Ethan Barton, Jessie Hylan, Thomas Siskron and Jackson Gilchrist.