THORNTON — The Niwot gymnastic team's version of Friday Night Lights included a steady balance and a keen focus — not to mention some dazzling acrobatic flips unadvisable for the faint of heart.
The Cougars, returning to state after finishing runner-up a year ago, hit on all cylinders. And this time, the landing was perfect.
Lindsay Chohon and Hattie Katechis finished second and third as Niwot topped the field at the Class 4A state meet at Thornton High School, winning the program's sixth team title in history.
Following a lengthy delay to compute the final tally, the Niwot girls breathed a sigh of relief and many broke into tears when they were officially announced as the winner. Its score of 181.50 was good enough to edge Green Mountain, which had 179.95.
"It's very emotional," said senior Chohon, who was on roster from the 2015 team, the program's last championship.
"Just knowing that we worked all season for this and actually came together, and we pulled it off."
The Cougars had less depth on this year's squad than they did last year when it finished behind Elizabeth by less than three points. A program that pulls gymnasts from across the St. Vrain Valley school district had only 15 athletes on roster with eight competitors at the state meet.
It equaled gold.
"That's where our strength comes from, our differences," Niwot coach Marisa Purcell said. "Being together at different schools throughout the day and coming together at the end of the day and practicing — we are one."
Chohon, the reigning BoCoPreps.com Gymnast of the Year, led the way with an all-around score of 37.00. The senior finished inside the top six in each of the four events with a second-place finish in the floor event being her best.
Katechis added 36.625 points in the all-around standings with a best finish in the balance beam, where she took second. And Taylor Green Becker was seventh with a score of 35.825.
The Cougars tied Loveland for the state's third-most team titles in history, according to CHSAA.
"I definitely have a team full of talent in all different areas," Purcell said. "They've come together as a team and that's what it takes to win titles like this."
Niwot rolled into the state meet after dominating its regional last week by placing first in three events while finishing third in bars. Chohon was the all-around regional champ followed by Katechis and Green Becker in second and third.
Individual events for both 5A and 4A gymnasts are at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday at Thornton High School.
Brent W. New: firstname.lastname@example.org and @brentwnew
Class 4A Gymnastics State Championships
At Thornton H.S.
Team Scores — Niwot 181.500, Green Mountain 179.950, Elizabeth 176.300, Evergreen 169.925, Rampart 168.875, Standley Lake 167.375, Pueblo Central 165.250, Bear Creek 164.550, Loveland, 156.875, Alamosa 123.950.
All-around top 10— 1. Emily Graham, Green Mountain, 37.025; 2. Lindsay Chohon, Niwot, 37.000; 3. Hattie Katechis, Niwot, 36.625; 4. Lucy Meinert, Green Mountain, 36.600; 5. Ciera Babb, Rampart, 36.025; 6. Emily Belmonte, Green Mountain, 35.975; 7. Taylor Green Becker, Niwot, 35.825; 8. Camille Guinet, Standley Lake, 35.500; 9. Jackie Fritsche, Evergreen, 35.250; 10. Megan Montoya, Elizabeth, 35.025.