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Photo gallery | Led by promising freshman Jenn Rogers, Mount Si's gymnastics team clinches fifth place at state
Jennifer Rogers's gymnastics journey has taken her from club play and an 18-month break, into high school competition, and now all the way to the Tacoma Dome.
The Mount Si freshman had one of her best meets of the year, leading the Wildcat gymnastics squad to a fifth place finish at the Washington Interscholastic Athletics Association's 3A state tournament.
At the dome, competing in the finals on floor and beam, Rogers felt the gaze of thousands. How'd that feel: "Really cool!" She treated it like just another competition.
"I just wanted to represent my school," she said.
Underclasswomen teammates McKenzie Brown, Carissa Castagno, Hannah Richmond Hailey Johnson and Elizabeth Holms had contributing performances and senior Lexi Swanson and junior Jessica Trotto turned in clutch performances to boost the team to a fifth place finish against some very tough teams.
"It was the best competition I have seen in the years I have coached," head coach Jessica Easthope said.
Rogers had worked hard in the last few weeks to rise to this level. She was Mount Si's sole gymnast to break into the top 16 on day one, allowing her to head into day two's finals.
"She's been a club gymnast, so she's used to pressure situations, even though the competition at state went far beyond what we saw all season long," Easthope said. "She's used to seeing that competition at club meets."
Mount Si's best results came on the floor, where Rogers took fifth with a 9.55 in the finals. She also had seventh on beam with a 9.15.
On day one floor results, Rogers tied for fourth with Enumclaw's Olivia Bannerot, with a 9.6. Castagno tied for 38th, Richmond for 47th, Brown for 64th. Swanson tied for 72nd, Trotto had 75th.
Rogers led Mount Si on bars with a 7.6, ranking 22nd. She was followed by Hannah Richmond, who had a 7.5.
On beam, Rogers again led the team with an 8.85, tying for 15th. Richmond tied for 38th with 8.15.
Also on the first day, Johnson had 30th in vault, followed by Brown, who tied for 32nd. Rogers tied for 42nd. Trotto tied for 60th, Holmes tied for 89th and Castagno tied for 82nd.
Competition at the Dome is busy and fast paced, a constant rotation between two flights of events that leads up to finals with the top 16 on Saturday. Mount Si has competed at state for the last four years, placing sixth at 3A last year, fourth in the two prior years.
On Mount Si's final day of warm-ups, Wednesday, Jan. 15, the pace was light.
"The girls do better when they're relaxed," Easthope said. "We don't like to stress our girls. They all know what they need to do."
As Castagno and Holmes practiced on beam, Brown took a break from bars.
A first-time high school competitor, Brown was excited for the novel experience.
Four-year state veteran, senior Swanson knew this would be her final trip to the Dome as a Wildcat.
"I'm twice as confident as I've ever been," she said. "I'm ready for the experience with my teammates, competing, being out there making high school memories."
In her third year at state, Trotto was "really excited to show all the skills we got this year."
In the final practice, "We're joking around, but we're still very serious. There's an air of tension in the room."
"I'm really proud of my team this year," Trotto said. "They've worked really hard to make it to state."
"This season, we all became really close," said fellow junior Richmond. "We all have really good skills."
Other schools may also boast club-experienced gymnasts, but Mount Si has something special.
"After our first year and our tremendous success, word has gotten out that this is great program to be part of," Easthope said. "When kids are in that iffy state of 'Should I quit squad or continue,' a good program helps make that decision. They have something to look forward to."
This team has bonded for a reason.
"A good majority of these kids are great friends, in and out of gymnastics," Easthope said. "These kids get a good sense of 'I belong.' That is important to overall success at high school."
With the sole senior, Swanson, moving on, Mount Si is expected to reload an experienced core of today's juniors, sophomores and freshmen next fall—"maybe stronger, should the girls decide to train in the offseason," Easthope said.
Eight at state: The Mount Si gymnastics team at Tacoma, from left, Elizabeth Holmes, Carissa Castagno, Hailey Johnson, Lexi Swanson, Jessica Trotto, Hannah Richmond, Jenn Rogers, Mackenzie Brown.
Mount Si senior Lexi Swanson finishes her floor routine.
Mount Si's Mackenzie Brown on bars at state.
Mount Si's Hannah Richmond performs her bars routine.