Since her freshman season two years ago, Darby Gertsema has shown glimpses of greatness.
Despite being in the shadow of Allison Meads, who won four of five events at the Kansas gymnastics state meet two years ago, Gertsema was not far behind. She placed third in the bars, vault and all-around for the state champion Olathe East Hawks.
A year ago, Gertsema focused on her club team and did not compete for Olathe East. But this year — her junior season — she roared back to high school gymnastics during the fall and won individual state titles in the vault and all-around. Gertsema also finished in the top five in every event in the Sunflower League standings.
For all of that, Gertsema is the The Star’s All-Metro gymnast of the year.
“Although she had a great time doing club, I think she missed what the high school competition is all about,” Olathe East coach Julie Bayha said. “I think she took a lot of pride in that this year.”
Gertsema aimed high in the vault and she earned a 9.65 score on her Yurchenko layout. It tied the third-best score in state meet history and helped her to a narrow victory in the all-around event at the state meet. She added a third-place finish in the balance beam, fifth in the uneven parallel bars and 10th in floor exercise.
“She was so surprised when she won state because she didn’t expect it at all,” Bayha said. “She didn’t even know she had won, so when they called her name the look on her face was priceless.”
The Star’s All-Metro gymnastics team
Grace Bartle, Lawrence Free State, senior. Bartle, a four-time All-Metro selection, repeated as state champion in the floor exercise and helped the Firebirds capture the team state title. She also placed fifth in the vault and all-around.
Samantha Bond, Olathe East, sophomore. Bond was the state runner-up in the floor exercise, and she added top-10 finishes in the all-around, vault and beam. She was an All-Sunflower League performer in the balance beam, floor exercise and all-around.
Darby Gertsema, Olathe East, junior. Gertsema returned to high school competition, after a year away, and won a pair of state titles in the all-around and vault. She also finished in the top five in all five events in the Sunflower League.
Caroline Miller, Shawnee Mission West, senior. Miller won the Kansas state title in the uneven parallel bars with an average score of 9.150. She also placed fourth in the all-around and fifth in the beam.
Jessie Payne, Olathe Northwest, junior. Payne, who placed among the top four in all five events at the Kansas state meet, won all-around and uneven parallel bars titles in the Sunflower League.