WESTMINSTER — The first gymnastics meet of the season couldn’t have ended better for Mountain Range’s Kassie Chapman.
Chapman, a senior at Legacy who competes with the Mustangs, not only won the all-around competition but also snagged first place in bars, which is usually her weakest event. On Wednesday night at Mountain Range High School, she scored a 9.1 to seal the win not just for herself, but for her team as well.
She kept her routine the same as last year as she incorporated a shoot-over and giants.
“It’s insane but honestly, it was more exciting just to have our team beat Broomfield,” Chapman said. “We haven’t beaten them in I don’t even know how long and they’re the reigning state champs, but it felt really good to win all-around too. I think it shows our incredible strength. Two of our best all-arounders are hurt right now. They’re out for injury.”
While Broomfield does return to the 2022 season with a new state championship banner hanging in its gym, Mountain Range enjoyed a strong showing at the Class 5A state meet as well. Chapman herself finished ninth in the all-around competition as the Mustangs placed third as a team.
This year, the Mustangs bring back an experienced squad to lead them forward, thanks to Chapman, Madeline Domenico and Kenna Crookham, who is currently nursing an ankle injury. Head coach Becky Linnenburger believes her girls excel most at floor and vault but hopes to transform them into a beam team as well by season’s end.
“Our entire goal all season is to continue to push ourselves and grind and work hard and get better and get better and get better,” Linnenburger said. “We brought back quite a bit of talent but we also brought in some awesome freshmen as well. We had a lot of great varsity returners, which was a blessing I think.”
The Eagles, on the other hand, will look a bit different this year, even as they bring back a top performer in sophomore Kaya Duncan, who placed sixth in the all-around as a freshman. This year, she’ll look to improve in three areas as she focuses her talents on vault, floor and beam.
She spent much of her freshman season shaking off the nerves, which only helped prepare her for the spotlight at the state meet.
“When I gained more confidence, I started showing it off more,” she said.
Duncan will keep much of her routines the same this season but will upgrade from a Yurchenko tuck to a Yurchenko pike as the season progresses. Her goal this year is to have fun with the hopes of repeating as state champions.
Aside from Duncan, head coach Mark Bogoger will look to three ladies in particular to lead the squad. Senior Maren Irvin, who excels at the vault, will return from injury. Senior Mila Thompson specializes most in the uneven bars as junior captain Mia Ritchie brings the heat in floor and beam.
“At the beginning of the season, we had to talk about last year — state champions — and that that isn’t this year’s team,” Booger said. “Those aren’t the expectations that are set because there’s only one place to go from there. We said, ‘You know, that was last year’s team and those girls that were on that team, you got a ring and congratulations. But it’s a brand new team this year and maybe you can accomplish that but whatever it is, you go out and you do your best and we’ll be proud of whatever you accomplish.’”
Niwot starts off season with a big win
Elsewhere on Wednesday night, Niwot’s team outperformed Fort Morgan on every level. The Cougars scored 170.950 as a team, which shone brightly in comparison to Fort Morgan’s 104.450. Maeve Flentie nabbed all-around with a 35.000 score after winning floor (9.000), winning beam (9.300), finishing second in bars (8.400) and placing fourth in vault (8.300).
Freshman Kylee Schleep won the vault competition with an 8.900 as another freshman, Lily O’Neill, claimed the top spot in bars with an 8.800.
The Cougars will field a young team this year as coach Marisa Purcell looks to O’Neill, Schleep and sophomore Claire Vardas to step into the spotlight. The trio, which competes in all four events, continues to learn the ins and outs of high school gymnastics.
“I only have two seniors, one of those who’s been on varsity all four years,” Purcell said. “We are working hard to put the best routines together that will be most successful. They all have great talent and will contribute to making it to state as a team and fighting for those top spots.”