Gymnastics: Niwot hoping move to 4A nets championship

Lewis Geyer / TIMES-CALL
Sophomore Maddie Barkow will be a key component this weekend in Niwot’s drive toward the Class 4A state gymnastics title.

NIWOT — The Niwot High gymnastics team dropping from Class 5A to 4A this season could make all the difference in the world for sophomore gymnast Maddie Barkow’s chances for success at this weekend’s state championships.

Barkow will put forth her best effort at Thornton High School and hope she is at her best when it matters most. The difference this year is that her best might be good enough to win it all.

“I have a pretty good chance to get first for all-around at state,” Barkow said. “If I have one of my best days, that could happen. In 5A, I could have had my best day and still not have had a chance.”

Making her freshman debut at the 5A state meet last season, Barkow placed seventh in the vault and 11th on the balance beam.

With all the scores in from regional meets around the state, Barkow figures to be a top contender again in 2014, and then some. The Cougars sophomore enters the state meet with the fifth best all-around score (35.450), fifth best floor routine (9.300) and third best score on the vault (9.250). Her chances to win the all-around competition may well come down to whether or not Barkow can have a breakthrough on the uneven bars and balance beam.

“My mindset is just to stay focused and fight for everything,” Barkow said. “As long as I keep trying my hardest, I’ll be proud. I’m expecting to do well on floor and vault and if I have a great day on beam and bars, I get really high in the scores. I’m just going to have to have a great day.”

The state meet for both 5A and 4A will take place at Thornton High School on Friday and Saturday. Competition begins at 8:50 a.m. on Friday and will be completed Saturday afternoon.

This year’s state meet time and place will be business as usual for the Cougars. But they will be competing in a different division than in past seasons, something that has them excited for their team title potential.

After taking 11th at the Class 5A state finals in 2013, Niwot has dropped down to 4A in 2014. The Cougars’ regional team score of 174.35, third highest of any team at any regional tournament, puts them within striking distance of the championship.

“We feel good about it and we’re all going to try our hardest,” Niwot freshman Hannah McDonald said. “We definitely have a shot but we’ll all have to have our best routines. There will be plenty of good competition so it won’t be easy but we’re going to go for it.”

Standley Lake enters with the highest regional team score with 176.25. Elizabeth is second with 175.7.

Seventh-year head coach Mallorie Lang said the Cougars won’t just be leaning on Barkow either. They’re a team squad and they intend to scratch and claw for every point.

Niwot sophomore Marissa Koski enters the state meet sixth best in the all-around (34.750), sixth best on bars (8.600) and fourth best on beam (9.200). Senior Gabby Casey is seventh best on bars (8.575) and ninth best on beam (8.850). Sophomore Alexis Carroll has the sixth best score on the vault with a 9.100 and McDonald has the eighth best score on the vault with a 9.025.

Follow Brad on Twitter: