Despite the absence of Paige Hirata, the Woodinville gymnastics team went on to capture its fourth straight Class 4A state championship.
Kat Rudd, Kate Norris and Morgann Mochermann stepped in as alternates and helped the Falcons to a score of 180.225, topping second-place Camas who had 175.425.
Woodinville senior Alli McManus beat out Mount Rainier freshman Karissa Saelee for the all-around title with a score of 38.0-37.95.
“We knew the point spread would be a lot closer since we lost one of our top kids,” said Woodinville coach Kathie Koch.
The drama actually began Friday morning at the Tacoma hotel where the Lady Falcons stayed. Kylie Mosset awoke to see teammate Paige Hirata curled up in the corner.
“We were like, `Paige what’s the matter?’” Mosset said. “Paige is someone who is always pushing through, always finding the positives, never feeling down. It took her fifteen minutes to [acknowledge] she had been throwing up and feeling sick. But she said, “I’ll be fine. I’ll be okay.”
“Paige is a really tough kid,” Koch said. “We tease Paige, because her standard line is `I’m fine.’ She could be bleeding or injured and she’ll say she’s fine. So when she finally said she wasn’t fine, that meant she was really sick and could not do it.”
So Woodinville switched to Plan B, and arrived at the Exhibition Hall with the battle cry of “Do this one for Paige!”
As the competition began, it became clear that Camas would be Woodinville’s toughest challenger.
“We didn’t know about Camas much,” Mosset said. “But they came in and they were super supportive and super sweet. Both teams were cheering each other on.”
Asked about a favorite moment, Mosset singled out teammate Kylie Michel.
“I was super excited for Kylie,” Mosset said. “She has been working extremely hard on vault. She wasn’t able to stand up her vault in KingCo or Districts, but she was able to do it at State.”
Meanwhile, coach Koch gave big kudos to Kate Norris.
“Kate is one of our kids who came in as an alternate,” Koch said. “She did the best she’s done all season, and both her scores counted for our team total. She came through in a pinch. She was confident and I was amazed.”
When the final scores were tabulated, Woodinville edged Camas to win the 4A championship. Four years in a row. Senior Alli McManus shone brightest, finishing first in bars and second in floor, vault and beam.
Koch, who just completed her second year at Woodinville, reflected on the season.
“It was a great year,” Koch said. “Hopefully the kids will look back on it with fondness. Undefeated for four years. Those seniors can say that in four years they never lost a meet as part of Woodinville gymnastics. Not many can say something like that. This team was a great group of kids and I’m going to miss them. I will see them next fall.”