With one meet left in the 2016 season, the Overland co-op gymnastics team is undefeated and coach Lisa Sparrow sees no reason why the Trailblazers can’t stay that way.
Depth has been the key to succeess for a program that blends athletes from all across Aurora and beyond, as the Trailblazers haven’t skipped a beat despite injuries to key performers.
Sparrow believes that depth will be the determining factor at the Class 5A state meet — Nov. 3-5 at Thornton High School — at which Overland aims to win a fifth state championship in eight seasons.
“I think our girls are ready to put together a strong, confident performance,” said Sparrow, whose team finished fourth in 2015.
“I think there are some teams that haven’t necessarily competed at full strength against us and that’s certainly going to come into play, but I think we’re going to put our best routines out there.”
Last season’s state meet was basically a one-horse race, as Pomona was far and away the favorite and lived up to it, but this season seems to be wide open.
Overland has just as much chance as any, as it won all the major invites it competed at throughout the course of the season (Loveland, Overland and Cherry Creek), then claimed the Centennial/Continental League title and the Region 1 crown.
Despite the loss to injury of two of its state regulars from the past few seasons — seniors McKenna Turbyne (fifth in last season’s all-around competition) and Madie Venegas — the Trailblazers have shown the ability to maintain their high level of competitiveness.
There is state experience, as senior Alli Olson (Cherokee Trail), junior Christie Yee (Cherokee Trail) and sophomores Natalie Wilson (Vista PEAK), Josie Claycamp (Early Colleges), Sofia Fiocchi (Grandview) and Elena Reiffin (Cherokee Trail) have competed in at least one event on the big stage.
Sparrow also expects her talented varsity newcomers — sophomore Delenn Steffes (Overland) and freshmen Samantha DeMoss (Eaglecrest) and Annabelle Pedderson (Smoky Hill) — to be able to handle the environment because of their club backgrounds.
DeMoss finished fourth in the Region 1 all-around and will be the only Overland gymnast to compete in it at state.
A new format for the state meet has 5A prelims and team competition on Nov. 3 (4 p.m.), followed by individual event finals (for the top 15 scorers on each event) on Nov. 5 (4 p.m.).
Sparrow was pleased with the randomly generated rotation that allows the Trailblazers to begin on their three strongest events: unveven bars, floor and vault, then finish with the balance beam.
“I am extremely pleased with the rotation,” Sparrow said. “If I would have to pick a rotation for this team, this season, I couldn’t have picked it better.”
Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel