The state championship trophy for the LHSAA Sugar Bowl Girls Gymnastics meet is headed north to Shreveport for the third straight year after Caddo Magnet finished atop a four-team logjam to claim the title Saturday at Baton Rouge High School.
After going over the detailed scoring rubric several times, meet director Kevin Nee and scorer Mark Courter determined Caddo bested St. Amant 222.100 to 220.50, with St. Joseph’s Academy and Baton Rouge High within 4.5 points of the lead.
The final score wasn’t as close as the .40 point margin Caddo had over SJA for the 2015 title, but it was just as sweet for coach Julie Anderson, who didn’t know her team had won until Nee announced the final results in the awards ceremony.
“I was so nervous, I was a wreck,” Anderson said. “I know how hard these girls have worked to get here. I can’t say enough how gymnastics is a P.E. class for most of them. I have one girl who is in a club, and my girls have to work harder to go against the club gymnasts.”
Caddo’s one club gymnast, Cara Armstrong, added some drama for her team and the meet. She is competing in the Eastern Nationals of U.S.A. Gymnastics in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and her last possible flight from New Orleans meant she had a 4:15 p.m. deadline to leave for the airport. She finished her final event with four minutes to spare and hurried out the door.
“We had her on Facetime, so she was able to see the awards ceremony. She was very excited,” Anderson said.
Armstrong finished fourth in the Division I All-Around scoring behind freshman Kamryn Ryan of Hahnville, Victoria Vincent of St. Thomas More and Uzoamaka Njoku of Dutchtown.
It was the first LHSAA state competition for Ryan, who started doing gymnastics at age 4.
She got off to a bad start before tying her personal best in the floor exercise with a 9.70.
“My worst event today was the beam,” Ryan said. “I only got a 9.15. It was my first event, and I was a little shaky.
“It was a nice meet. The facility (the BRHS gymnastics gym) is really nice, and the judges were lenient and nice.”
Team scoring in LHSAA gymnastics factors in scores in Division III (Level 3), Division II (Level 4) and Division I (Level 8).
Caddo edged BRHS by half a point in Division III, E.D. White was the top team in Division II, and Dutchtown won Div. 1.
Michaela Matherne of Assumption tied Ryan and Jeadon Wallace of Pontchatoula (Floor) for high score of the day with a 9.70 on the beam and nipped Camille LeBlanc of St. Amant for the high score in Division II. Tori Nguyen of BRHS tied with Lainey Martin of St. Amant in Division III, with Nguyen winning the division based on her higher score in the first event of the Olympic rotation, the vault.
“Our level threes and level fours all stepped up and improved their scores,” Anderson said. “They knew they had to do that in case Cara had to leave, and they did it.”
Delia Ardoin of St. Joseph’s was a top five finisher in every event except the beam, and her 21st place finish there dropped her to fifth overall.
The other top ten finishers in Division I were Mackenzie Westmoreland, East Ascension (6), Morgan DeJean of Dominican (7), Dominioque Taunbrecher, North Vermilion (8), Natchez Stanton of Thomas Jefferson (9), and Madison Sapp of St. Amant (10).
The No. 2 All-Around performer from 2015, Madison Averett of French Settlement, was a last minute scratch.
Saturday’s meet wrapped up a gymnastics weekend at BRHS. On Friday, Baton Rouge won the boys state title, defeating Caddo Magnet 383.50 to 349.60.