Gymnastics: Niwot, Broomfield and Legacy enjoying return to normalcy

  • Alissa Noe/BoCoPreps.com

    Broomfield's Izzy Benkowski competes in the floor competition at the Overland gymnastics invite on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021.

  • Alissa Noe/BoCoPreps.com

    Broomfield's Izzy Benkowski makes a tumbling pass during her floor routine at the Overland gymnastics invite on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021.

  • Alissa Noe/BoCoPreps.com

    Legacy's Kassie Chapman competes in the floor routine with Mountain Range's gymnastics team at the Overland gymnastics invite on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021.

  • Alissa Noe/BoCoPreps.com

    Broomfield's Tori Griffith competes in the floor competition at the Overland gymnastics invite on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021.

  • Alissa Noe/BoCoPreps.com

    Niwot's Grayce Gutierrez competes in the floor competition at the Overland gymnastics invite on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021.

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AURORA — Nothing comes easy during COVID-affected high school sports seasons, but having a team behind an athlete to cheer her on can make a huge difference.

The ladies from Niwot, Broomfield and Legacy certainly felt that effect during Overland’s gymnastics invite on Saturday as they competed in front of hundreds of fans and fellow gymnasts.

Oh, it felt good to be back.

“Honestly, last year was so crazy that it didn’t feel like a real season so this year, I’m really happy that we get to go to meets as a big team and we all get to have full practices and team dinners,” Niwot sophomore Grayce Gutierrez said. “It’s been great actually having a team.”

Gutierrez, unfortunately, has never had a normal high school season. Her freshman year couldn’t have been more atypical with the Season C delay, the gym capacity restrictions and quick turnaround into her sophomore slate, but she’s happy she gets to draw from the energy of her teammates now.

“It makes me feel way more confident because I’m not doing it for myself anymore, I’m doing it for a lot of people, which makes me feel a lot better,” she explained. “I think I’ve been doing pretty good today. It’s a really big meet and I’ve never been to an invitational before.”

Broomfield senior Sophia Pavlidis won the all-around with a 36.425 score after she won the vault (9.250), placed sixth in the uneven bars (9.300) and finished fourth in floor (9.375). Niwot’s Mia Curry placed fourth with a 35.675 score. Broomfield continued to dominate the team competition as the Eagles won out at 179.875 and Mountain Range followed right behind at 175.675.

Broomfield also saw great finishes from Kaya Duncan and Brenna Calvo in the beam event, as the ladies snagged first and third, respectively, with scores of 9.425 and 9.050.

High school gymnastics, of course, is a whole different animal from the club world. There are club teams, sure, but the name of the game surrounds individual success. Pavlidis discovered the contrast firsthand when she made the switch from her Junior Olympic team to the high school scene last year.

Since then, she’s thrived alongside her fellow Eagles, who have won all three of their meets prior to Saturday’s competition.

“I had always been like, ‘I don’t really want to do high school, it doesn’t seem that fun,’” she said. “I’m so glad I switched because it’s actually one of my best high school experiences and I love it. Club gymnastics is more individual and I really like doing high school because the focus is on the team, so you just feel more supported by your teammates when you’re out there on the floor to compete because you know they want you to succeed and you want them to succeed.”

Pavlidis served as the Eagles’ lone all-around competitor at Overland and was the first one to do so this season. Clearly, that strategy worked out well for them. The short turnaround from Season C, however, has lent way to injuries among Broomfield’s top girls, but they’re starting to return to form.

Mountain Range’s team, on the other hand, has benefitted from the lack of an offseason as the ladies have spent more time in the gym adding and perfecting new skills. The Mustangs, who also house gymnasts from Legacy High, are enjoying their best season since Kassie Chapman first joined the squad. She believes that if she and her teammates keep working, they can be a formidable team when the state competition rolls around.

“This is probably my best season yet, for sure,” the Legacy junior said. “I’ve been doing really good all around. I’ve gotten a lot better on bars. My freshman year, I wasn’t even really JV bars and now I’m varsity bars. It was getting over a lot of the mental blocks and just learning to trust myself and trust my body and learning to go with the flow when it comes to new skills.”

The gymnasts will have roughly another month to clean up their skills and perfect their routines before heading into the state meet at Thornton High School from Nov. 4-6.