THORNTON — Some athletes have that rare ability to capture your imagination based solely on their drive to compete.
Sarah Holbrook didn't need to subject her body to the rigors of gymnastics for the last two years at Broomfield ... she wanted to.
And she did it well.
Competing with the debilitating effects of Berolotti's Syndrome — a rare genetic disorder that causes immense pain in the lower back — Holbrook still managed to win the balance beam last year.
Fast forward to 2015 and Holbrook was in line to become the first repeat winner of the event since Wasson's Cindy Cole three-peated from 1983-85. On Saturday night at Thornton High School, Holbrook capped off her brilliant prep career scoring a 9.8 in her final routine.
"It was beautiful. After yesterday's meet she was pretty upset with how it ended and she said, 'Why did it have to end like that?," Broomfield coach Erika Taga said. "I told her it doesn't have to end like that, you've got tomorrow.
"And so to come out on her favorite event and just annihilate that routine was spectacular."
All an emotional Taga could do afterwards was hug her outgoing senior and then sit and watch Pomona's all-around champion Kelsey Boychuk. The Panthers sophomore was equally as good — literally — matching Holbrook's 9.8.
The tiebreaker came down to the combined average of all four judges scores and Boychuk's 9.813 bettered Holbrook's 9.788.
"I was really happy because that was my last beam routine ever in my life and I'm happy it ended like that," said Holbrook, who will step away from the sport to concentrate on her studies next year at Northern Arizona University. "It's a little bit disappointing, but Kelsey, I love her and she is a sweetheart. I'm glad it was her."
Was it all worth it for her?
"Absolutely," she said. "I've had a real hard time this week and it has been real emotional because this is my life. It was definitely worth it to come back out."
Said and emotional Taga: "You watch these kids grow up before your eyes and to be able to end like that on such a difficult event is so awesome. It's all because of passion and her love of the sport and for this team and for all the right reasons."
The Eagles overall placed well on the beam, also placing Abby Holbrook (5th) and Nicki Verheyen (6th) on the awards podium.
Abby Holbrook also placed fourth on bars and eighth in vault. Heather Betz placed seventh on bars.
It was a banner day for the Legacy girls, who compete under the Mountain Range flag. One day after finishing eighth in the all-around competition, senior Rachel Dillman finished her high school career by placing 7th in vault, 10th on bars and 11th on the floor.
"I'm happy with it. I'm really happy with how I did on vault and I'm usually better than that on bars and floor," said Dillman, who was the only Mustangs gymnast to make the awards stand.
One day after capturing their first team title since 2001, the 4A Niwot Cougars crowned three more individual apparatus champions.
Ila Katechis, who finished fourth in the all-around on Friday, won both the vault (9.45) and the beam (9.6). In fact, the Cougars went 1-2-3 on the beam, with Amelia Sears (9.575) and Marissa Koski (9.45) taking silver and bronze respectively.
Koski, despite a minor hiccup on the bars, scored a 9.325 to win that event.
"I felt kind of mediocre about it because my overshoot in warm-ups was the best I had ever done it," she said. "And then during the meet, it had been a while, and I just didn't do it as well as I wanted to. But I pulled it together pretty well and it ended good."
Other placers for Niwot included: Hannah McDonald (4th on vault and 5th on bars), Erica Bortfeldt (7th on bars), Lindsey Chohon (2nd on floor) and Lilli Martin (5th on floor).
CLASS 5A INDIVIDUAL APPARATUS FINALS
Vault — 1. Kelsey Boychuk, Pomona, 9.8 (9.8)*; 2. Brooke Weins, Pomona, 9.8 (9.788)*; 3. Alyssa Minyard, Pomona, 9.7; 4. Sierra Kirylo, Thornton, 9.675; 5. Annabel Spence, Pomona, 9.65; 6. Samantha Simon, Cherry Creek, 9.625; 7. Rachel Dillman, Mountain Range/Legacy, 9.6; 8. Abby Holbrook, Broomfield, 9.5; 11. Abby Crosier, Mountain Range/Legacy, 9.45; 15. Natalie Prestwich, Mountain Range/Legacy, 9.375.
Uneven bars — 1. Minyard, Pomona, 9.7 (9.7)*; 2. Weins, Pomona, 9.7 (9.688)*; 3. Simon, Cherry Creek, 9.65; 4. A. Holbrook, Broomfield, 9.625; 5. Boychuk, Pomona, 9.575; 6. McKenna Turbyne, Overland, 9.5; 7. Heather Betz, Broomfield, 9.225; 8. KiKi Neff, Lakewood, 9.1; 10. Dillman, Mountain Range/Legacy, 8.975.
Floor — 1. Autumn Bottke, Rocky Mountain, 9.825; 2. Minyard, Pomona, 9.775; 3. Kaela Schandle, Heritage, 9.7; 4. Boychuk, Pomona, 9.6; 5. Avery Paxton, Cherry Creek, 9.5; 6. Hadley Hagemann, Pomona, 9.45; 7. Weins, Pomona, 9.35; 8. Turbyne, Overland, 9.225; 11. Dillman, Mountain Range/Legacy, 9.15; 14. Betz, Broomfield, 8.875.
Beam — 1. Boychuk, Pomona, 9.8 (9.813)*; 2. Sarah Holbrook, Broomfield, 9.8 (9.788)*; 3. Weins, Pomona, 9.775; 4. Simon, Cherry Creek, 9.75 (9.75, 9.8)*; 5. A. Holbrook, Broomfield, 9.75 (9.75, 9.75)*; 6. Nicki Verheyen, Broomfield, 9.65; 7. Minyard, Pomona, 9.625; 8. Bottke, Rocky Mountain, 9.6; 12. Abby Crosier, Mountain Range/Legacy, 8.825.
CLASS 4A INDIVIDUAL APPARATUS FINALS
Vault — 1. Ila Katechis, Niwot, 9.45; 2. Rachel Cody, Standley Lake, 9.3; 3. Amanda Taylor, Elizabeth, 9.25; 4. Hannah McDonald, Niwot, 9.2; 5. Shelby Morgan, Elizabeth, 9.15 (9.175)*; 6. Taylor Wood, Fort Morgan, 9.15 (9.15)*; 7. Lexye Wood, Elizabeth, 9.0 (9.025, 9.1)*; 8. Kara McKee, Thompson Valley, 9.0 (9.025, 9.0)*; 9. Lilli Martin, Niwot, 9.0 (9.0)*; 15. Alexis Carroll, Niwot, 8.5.
Uneven bars — 1. Marissa Koski, Niwot, 9.325; 2. Grace Braune, Pueblo Central, 9.175; 3. Cody, Standley Lake, 9.1; 4. Wood, Elizabeth, 8.825; 5. McDonald, Niwot, 8.8; 6. Taylor, Elizabeth, 8.775; 7. Erica Bortfeldt, Niwot, 8.7; 8. Dillon Lind, Elizabeth, 8.6; 9. Lindsey Chohon, Niwot, 8.55.
Floor — 1. Wood, Elizabeth, 9.45; 2. Chohon, Niwot, 9.425; 3. Katechis, Niwot, 9.2; 4. Brooke Burton, Elizabeth, 8.975; 5. Martin, Niwot, 9.925 (8.913)*; 6. Cody, Standley Lake, 8.925 (8.9)*; 7. Morgan, Elizabeth, 8.8 (8.85)*; 8. Sydnee Eurich, Elizabeth, 8.8 (8.825)*; 13. McDonald, Niwot, 8.475.
Beam — 1. Katechis, Niwot, 9.6; 2. Amelia Sears, Niwot, 9.575; 3. Koski, Niwot, 9.45; 4. Cody, Standley Lake, 9.325; 5. Megan Reynolds, Elizabeth, 9.25; 6. Rylie Lewis, Lone Star, 9.075; 7. Jada Martinez, Pueblo Central, 8.925; 8. Sadie Rhoades-Barnes, Evergreen, 8.875; 12. McDonald, Niwot, 8.525; 13. Carroll, Niwot, 8.4.
* - denotes tiebreaker score