The first Shawnee Mission North Gymnastics Invitational was held in 1973, Bernadette Wagner’s first year coaching the girls sport at the school.
By CHARLES REDFIELD
Special to The Star
She was working the meet again last Saturday on her birthday.
When asked what birthday this was, she said she was 29 and holding.
She was the Indians' gymnastics coach until 2003 when assistant Chuck Lundblad took over.
He coaches at both SM North and SM East, and because the team practices at SM East, the Invitational was held there.
Interestingly, Wagner started coaching the pole vault in track in 1980 and is still coaching the event.
The Invitational brought together 12 of the 13 schools in the state of Kansas that offer girls gymnastics. The only school missing was Emporia.
The competition gives coaches an early peak at how the state meet might look like. Olathe North will play host to the state championship meet on Oct. 26.
Lawrence Free State won the Invitational's first-place team trophy with a score of 102.725. Olathe Northwest was second with 101.15, and Shawnee Mission West was third with a 99.5.
“We know what we need to do in practice to increase the difficulty in our routines,” Olathe Northwest and Olathe East coach Julie Bayha said. “I’m proud of how all the girls did today.”
Bayha praised the performances of Olathe Northwest sophomore Jessie Payne and Carly Stroup. Payne won the all-around competition with 36.1 points, and Stroup was seventh with 33.15.
Payne also won the uneven parallel bars with a score of 9.25 and the balance beam at 8.95. She was third in floor exercise at 8.8.
Bayha noted that Olathe East freshman Sam Bond had a good meet.
Fifth-year SM West coach Stacy Smith was pleased with finishing third.
“Our strength was in floor exercise and vault,” she said. “We need to work on balance beam and (uneven parallel) bars.“Overall the girls did excellent.”
What do the Vikings need to work on?
“It’s time to go back home and make our routines clean and precise,” Smith said.
Smith thinks she will be able to coach at the state meet Oct. 26, although she is pregnant with a girl that is due in early November.
Senior Megan Vanderpool of Shawnee Mission West is the lone returning state individual winner. She won the uneven parallel bars in 2012. In the Invitational, she won the floor exercise with 8.975 and was second in all-around with 35.775, vault with 9.3 and uneven parallel bars with 9.2.
Olathe North and Olathe South coach Jay Roberts had one champion in Olathe North sophomore Paige Forgey with a score of 9.5 in the vault.
How does the veteran coach look at the rest of the season?
“We take one at a time,” he said. “We only look back once to the last meet to do something better than the last meet.”