THORNTON — Coaches live and die with their athletes and nowhere is that more prevalent than in gymnastics.
They can only sit and watch from the side, a sort of glorified sideline contortionist, playing out their routines with their athletes.
For Niwot's Marisa Purcell it is amplified that much more, not only coaching her Cougars team, but also her daughter Lilliana Martin.
On Friday night during the Class 4A team and all-around finals at Thornton High School, the first-year coach ran the gamut of emotions with her Cougars that ultimately ended on a high with a second-place finish.
"It's stressful. It's a stressful week. It's a stressful season and I have that relationship with each individual girl and look at them as my own," said Purcell, whose team scored 177.775 to champion Green Mountain's 182.3.
The defending champion Cougars didn't have nearly the expectations they had coming into the state meet that they had last year, but still with the title comes the target on the back.
They opened on floor and got a small sample of how tough the judges were going to be. An overall team score of 43.5 was better than most, but wasn't exactly what they had projected.
In their second rotation, Niwot took to the vault and gained ground on their nearest competition for the second place trophy, Elizabeth.
Martin (9.25), Amelia Sears (9.275), Lindsay Chohon (9.475) and Alexis Carroll (9.425) all advanced to Saturday's individual apparatus finals and helped the Cougars to a nifty 46.2 score.
"All together as a team we were nervous coming in to do our best," said Chohon — one of three Frederick Warriors on the Niwot squad — who finished sixth in the all-around competition with a score of 36.25. "But we did our best."
After the break and before a fire alarm forced the evacuation of the gym, Niwot had perhaps its gutsiest performance of the night on the beam. It was Aleigh Trimble that stole the show.
Just two days after a rib injury placed her chance to compete in doubt, Trimble not only competed, she posted the highest score of the evening, 9.525.
"She was competing very hurt and not only did she stick in there and perform her routine for them," Purcell said, "It was phenomenal. I couldn't have asked for anything more from her."
In all the Cougars will fill 13 spots in Saturday's finals, that are set to begin at 4 p.m.
CLASS 4A STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS
At Thornton High School
Team scores — Green Mountain 182.3, Niwot 177.775, Elizabeth 176.625, Standley Lake 170.35, Evergreen 167.2, Rampart 167.1, Pueblo Central 164.525, Thompson Valley 163.825, Fort Morgan 154.875.
All-around — 1. Rachel Cody, Standley Lake, 37.00; 2. Camille Dipaola, Green Mountain, 36.875; 3. Emily Graham, Green Mountain, 36.575; 4. Mya Sinha, Green Mountain, 36.525; 5. Hayley Upson, Green Mountain 36.45; 6. Lindsay Chohon, Niwot, 36.25; 7. Amanda Taylor, Elizabeth, 36.0; 8. Morgan Maddox, Green Mountain, 35.875.