A rash of injuries throughout the season gave Puyallup High School gymnastics coach Dorinda Carpenter a scare.
But the Vikings are relatively healthy and clinched a team berth at the Class 4A state competition when they finished second on Saturday during the district meet at Mount Rainier High School.
The Mead Panthers won the district event and advanced as the other team to this weekend’s state meet, which will take place at the Tacoma Dome Exhibition Center.
Carpenter said she knew her team was moving on but decided to keep it to herself until the awards ceremony following the competition.
“Once I found out, I didn’t say anything,” she said. “I let them figure it out during the awards. After the girls found out, there was so much excitement and joy. We have seven seniors, and everything this team has gone through to get to this point where we fulfill our goal, it’s just huge. Every single one of them played a role in us achieving this goal.”
Puyallup dominated the all-around portion. Kate Jacobsen placed second, Summer Barrett was seventh and Madison Near collected an eighth-place finish.
Barrett, who wore a brace on her left arm due to an injury she suffered earlier this season, won the vault. Carpenter said it helped to make the difference for the Vikings.
“It really came down to the last event (vault),” Carpenter said. “All year long, vault hasn’t been one of our high-scoring events. The girls have been practicing really hard. We knew we had nothing to lose, and we just went for it.
“Five of our vaulters just did so awesome today,” she said. “That is what got us to state. I’m still in awe of what they did.”
Carpenter said practices will be light this week in anticipation of the state competition.
“The ultimate goal was to make it to state, and we’ve done that,” she said. “We have some girls who are struggling with some ankle injuries, so we won’t go too hard in practice this week. I want to make sure we preserve our health.
“We’re excited to see what we can do. We’re going to go all out and do the best we can.”