High schools

Jessie Payne of Olathe Northwest is The Star’s All-Metro gymnast of year

Updated: 2014-01-10T04:56:54Z

By KATHLEEN GIER

The Kansas City Star

Olathe Northwest High School’s run at the Kansas gymnastics state meet came down to sophomore Jessie Payne’s performance on the vault.

Luckily for the Ravens, Payne responded with the second-best score in state history when she notched a 9.7 to secure her second gold medal of the day and the all-around title. She also propelled her team to a second-place finish. That performance — and two more all-around titles during the season — earned Payne The Star’s All-Metro gymnast of the year.

“She learned a lot of new skills last season and then worked out in the offseason, so she came in really prepared,” Olathe Northwest coach Julie Bayha said. “She is incredibly determined and focused. She had her eye on the prize all season. That was her goal, and she worked really hard for it at every practice.”

Payne’s other individual state title came in the bars, where she scored a 9.2. Lawrence Free State junior Grace Bartle finished first in the beam with a 9.175, but Payne was right behind her with a 9.150 for second place. Payne’s lowest score came in the floor routine, where she finished with an 8.925 for fifth place.

“She is still working out, so she is still going to be learning lots of new skills and increasing the difficulties of her routines. She will continue to be a contender for her last two years of high school,” Bayha said.

When she’s not bringing attention to the Olathe Northwest program through her performances on the mat, Payne writes stories for the school’s gymnastics website through a sports information director class.

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