Northern Wyoming News - Serving the Big Horn Basin for over 100 years

By Alex Kuhn
Sports Editor 

307 Twisters hold their own against the best at State

 

April 3, 2018

DAILY NEWS/ Alex Kuhn

307 Twister Samantha Keller performs during the Twister's exhibition in 2017 at the Worland Community Center Complex.

WORLAND - Worland's gymnastics club, the 307 Twisters, went head to head against the best Wyoming had to offer on March 16-18 in Gillette. And to their credit, the Twisters held their own against the bigger gyms from Casper and Gillette.

Of the nine Twisters competing at the 2018 Wyoming State Gymnastics meet, all nine podiumed in the vault, bars, beam, floor or all-around. The highlight for the team was Samantha Keller finishing fourth in the all-around, scoring a 35.450 in the XG level, Senior A division. Keller's score qualified her for the regional meet in Galveston, Texas, on May 18-20.

"It was a good year, Sam was probably our biggest growth factor. She's been in a holding pattern for a couple of years. She went from not being sure she'd be able to qualify for state to qualifying for regionals. She's been our success story this season.

"It's really cool to see the confidence come and how that transforms them. Her first meet out was OK, second meet the same and then the third meet she qualifies for state and we're wondering where this came from. Started throwing back-tucks in the gym and was killing it," said 307 Twisters coach Donna Hunter.

Keller joins teammate Hailee Hunter as the only two Twisters to advance to the regional meet in Twister history. Keller scored an 8.450 on the vault, 8.400 on the bars, 9.500 on the beam and 9.100 on the floor.

Hunter placed fourth all-around in the Level 7, Senior B division with a score of 33.400 and just missed out on making her second trip to the regional meet. Hunter scored 8.900 on the vault, 7.200 on the bars, 8.150 on the beam and 9.150 on the floor.

"The girls did really well, all around, everyone scored and everyone placed. Hailee [Hunter] took fourth all-around at State. She was only three-tenths off of qualifying for regionals. She forgot her round off in her beam routine and that would have been the difference," said Donna Hunter.

The Twister's other standout included Trinity Christian competing at the XG Level, in the Senior B division. Christian scored an 8.500 on the vault, 7.200 on the bars, 8.550 on the beam, and 9.000 on the floor for an all-around total of 33.250.

Belle Starbuck competing in Level 3, Junior A division, scored an 8.550 on the vault, 7.875 on the bars, 8.400 on the beam, and 7.750 on the floor for an all-around total of 32.575.

Karys Bennet competed in the Level 3, Junior B division and scored 9.175 on the vault, 8.825 on the bars, 8.750 on the beam and 8.400 on the floor for an all-around score of 35.150.

Competing in Level 7, Junior division, Dakota Cervantes scored 9.00 on the vault, 6.150 on the bars, 7.900 on the beam and 7.850 on the floor for an all-around total of 30.900.

For the Level 3, Child division, the Twisters had three compete. Jazmine Wilkinson scored 9.050 on the vault, 8.425 on the bars, 8.750 on the beam and 8.725 on the floor; giving her an all-around total of 34.950 and earning her third place overall.

Emma Glanz scored a 9.000 on the vault, 8.125 on the bars, 9.125 on the beam and 8.100 on the floor, finishing with a 34.350 all-around score putting her in fifth place.

Finishing seventh in the division with an all-around score of 33.475 was Lylah Geis. To get that score Geis scored an 8.250 on the vault, 7.925 on the bars, 8.750 on the beam and 8.550 on the floor.

"We had a small team this year but they were very talented. They were very strong at the lower level. We had a big turnover this year, normally it's smaller. As a team, they did really well and they all grew all season. It was a lot of fun," Hunter said.

After the notable performances by her team, Hunter was also taken back at how quickly the sport has grown. There were 388 gymnasts competing at the state meet and just among the Level 3's, there were 130 gymnasts.

"When we first started, there were 140, total, and this year we had 130 girls in Level 3 alone. There were two sessions and our girls killed it. The positive is that the state is growing and it's neat to watch. We've got this swing going and that's good," said Hunter.

The uptick in numbers also means the level of competition will increase but that did not scare off the Twisters. In fact, as soon as the meet was finished, they were already asking their coaches what the practice plan for next week would look like.

"It was tough competition with that many kids but our girls were very excited and as soon as we got back they were asking what are we going to work on now," said Hunter.

The growth of the sport is bittersweet for Hunter, on one hand more competition brings out the best but in the other, it means the bigger gyms still have that edge over the Twister program.

The Twisters do not lack for numbers but it is the size of their practice gym that has them behind others around the state. This is why the team puts on fundraisers like their spring exhibition, which will be on May 12, to help purchase equipment that will hopefully close the gap between the bigger Wyoming gyms.

"It motivates and makes you sad. We just don't have the facilities and I don't mean that as a bad thing. Our beam and bars are fine but our floor is smaller. For instance, Hailee and Dakota can't do their skills. Dakota can't do a front-tuck, front-tuck here, so we tell her to throw her fronts here, but when she gets to competition she'll be fine. She asked why and I told her it's because the floor is huge and she wasn't sure about that but the first time she came off the floor after warmup she said 'You were right.' It's a 45-foot by 45-foot floor and the runway is 100 feet and our girls are running on 50 feet," said Hunter

Still, the heart, hustle and the ability to do more with less has the Twisters standing toe-to-toe with the big gyms.

"It's frustrating because they're limited but at the same time, our little girls can do powerful things. We don't tell the girls that they're being limited by the space but they're still able to go out and hang with some of those physically larger gyms that have the pits and room for floors," said Hunter.

 
 

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