Auburn senior Ali Tate and the rival Auburn Mountainview gymnastics team have one unmistakable thing in common.
They both want to shine at state.
Fraught by nagging injuries throughout her decorated career, Tate hopes to make a good impression in front of the state judges one last time in February, when Washington’s best gymnasts converge on Tacoma for the 4A finals.
“My goal is to go out and have fun,” said Tate, who took the all-around 3A state title as a sophomore two winters ago but toiled as a junior. “It’s my last year, so I don’t want to have any stress.”
Past strains took the form of recurring stress fractures in her legs, a sore back and knees – the residual effects of the pounding her small frame has taken in the sport over the years. She began with ballet then started gymnastics at age 5.
Tate, for the most part, is feeling healthy in her bid to peak at the right hour.
On Wednesday, Jan. 24 she captured all-around honors with a score of 36.65 after winning the floor exercise, bars and beam and settling for second in the vault at the All-City showdown at Auburn Riverside High School.
Auburn Riverside’s Hailey Kunimura was second in the all-around (34.4), and Auburn Mountainview’s Regan Singer was third (33.1).
Tate dazzled on the bars, producing a high-flying, lofty 9.5 that no one could equal. She scored a 9.45 on the floor, 9.25 on the beam and 8.45 on the vault.
“Actually, I’m scared of the bars, and I don’t like it,” she admitted afterward. “But when it comes to being judged and having to get that score to be on top, it just comes back to me.”
Lions load up
Auburn Mountainview capped an unbeaten 18-0 run through the North Puget Sound League regular season on Jan. 24, outdistancing Auburn (156-152), Auburn Riverside (156-146) and Enumclaw (156-155) in dual scoring.
In addition to Singer, the Lions’ Ariana Martinez finished sixth (32.4) in the all-around on the strength of her second on the floor (9.35). Singer’s night was highlighted by a third on the beam (9.0).
Breanna Shahan, delivering a good front-hand spring, was fourth on the vault (8.3).
Auburn Mountainview looks to qualify for state as a team this season, a feat it narrowly missed a year ago.
“I really like our chances,” said Shahan, a team captain. “We have a lot of girls with potential. It’s not just the top two who are the best.”
Jayme Hostetter, the Lions coach since the school opened in 2005 and led the program to its first and only state title in 2010, knows it will be difficult to qualify as a team.
“We’re deep but it’s still going to be tough for us to make it to state as a team,” she said. “We’ll give it our best. We have some great kids who work hard, and every day they want to do better.”
The Lions stumbled on the beam but righted the ship during Wednesday’s program.
Next up is the league showcase at Mount Rainier High School on Saturday. Auburn Mountainview expects a fight from heralded Kentlake, which it edged in an earlier dual meet.
“We’re going to have to be on our game a little better than we were today,” Hostetter said. “We just missed it last year (making it to the state as a team). We would like to get back.”
Along with Kunimura, the Ravens’ Madi Kelly was fifth in the all-around (32.55). Kunimura and Kelly went two-three on the bars (7.7 and 7.4, respectively). Kunimura added thirds on the floor (9.3) and vault (8.35).
The Ravens’ Niina Werronen was fourth on the vault (8.3) and Auburn’s Caitlyn Hogan was sixth (31.7) and Camryn Tongue eighth (31.6) in the all-around. Tongue and Hogan went four-five on the beam (8.55 and 8.5, respectively).