Team edges Skyline for third place at KingCo meet
By Matt Phelps
Mercer Island Reporter
Mercer Island gymnastics team members knew that qualifying for districts would be tough based on regular season scores. After all, Mercer Island finished the season fourth in the conference and only three teams would advance to the district meet.
But the Islanders put up their biggest team score of the year , 161.475, to finish third at the 3A KingCo championship meet on Saturday at Newport High School and narrowly edge out Skyline (160.325) to qualify for districts as a team.
“Third place is good and sweet,” said Mercer Island gymnastics head coach Lenny Lewis. “The girls were nervous but we told them to just do their thing and it will take care of itself.”
Newport dominated the meet to win the championship with a score of 172.075. Issaquah placed second with 163.775 points.
“We knew from the beginning that this would be a tough meet,” said Mercer Island senior Lauren Govier. “Last year we knew we had a shot at state but this year we had to work really hard and it is excited to see it payoff.”
Mercer Island was led by juniors Laura Maruhashi (35.425 – third overall) and Olivia Harvey (33.575 – tenth overall).
Maruhashi’s score of 9.375 was the best of the meet for any Islander. The score earned the junior fourth place overall. But Maruhashi’s placed highest on the bars, third, with a score of 8.5. The Islander also took sixth on vault (8.75) and placed in a three-way tie for sixth on beam (8.8).
Harvey struggled on vault, unable to stick the landing either time she attempted the event, missing the top ten.
“She stayed strong and finished strong and that is what matters,” said Lewis.
But Harvey put the performance out of her mind and posted one of the best scores of the meet on bars with an 8.275.
“Bars is one of my favorite events,” said Harvey, who also placed eighth on floor with a 9.1. “I used some of that anger (from the vault) to go out strong on bars.”
The Islanders were not perfect and were even missing a gymnast. Islander Kendra Johnson injured her wrist the night before the meet.
“We are not doing bad with injuries but it would have been nice to have Kendra and Erica’s is still sore,” said Lewis.
Both gymnasts are expected to compete Saturday at Sammamish High School during the district meet.
“We all know that we can do it we just have to prove it next week,” said Islander senior Kristen Shibuya.
Mercer Island’s KingCo score came as a surprise as Mercer Island’s previous high score was 159.95.
“We are shooting for 165 and I think we can get there,” said Lewis.
A few years ago that would have been enough to win state. This year scoring 170 has become common place to win big meets.
“I don’t see anyone winning state if they don’t score in the 170s,” said Lewis.
Melin takes second in all-around
Mercer Island resident and Bellevue High School gymnast Natalie Melin posted the second highest all-around score at the KingCo championship meet with 35.925 points.
“I thought I did pretty well,” said Melin, whose team placed fifth overall. “Our team worked really hard this year.”
Melin finished second on bars (8.7) and third on vault (9.1). The Bellevue senior also tied for fourth on beam with a score of 8.85 and fifth on floor with a score of 9.375, her highest of the meet. Melin has been a state finalist each of the last two seasons.
“I want to make it back to the state finals,” said Melin. “But I don’t want to be too over confident.”