Smith wins CIC gymnastics title
The Cook Inlet Conference gymnastic meet wasn’t the biggest competition of Kenzie Smith’s career.
But, the Eagle River High junior said it presented a new form of pressure — representing her school.
She did the Wolves proud.
Smith finished first in balance beam and floor exercise and had a pair of second-place performances (vault, uneven parallel bars) to win the all-around title Saturday, Oct. 26 at Dimond High.
“I was very happy,” Smith said.
Smith couldn’t have started the meet off much better. She scored a meet-high 9.85 on beam en route to a total of 36 points.
“I was super happy about beam,” she said.
She followed that with a 9.7 floor routine, during which the other competitions stopped and all eyes were on Smith.
South High’s Tena Newhouse and Jojo Mills were the only other gymnasts to score more than nine points in an event. Newhouse finished second all-around just 0.2 points behind Smith and Mills was third with 34.1 points.
Maddie Smith — no relation to Kenzie — finished fourth all-around with 32.5 points to lead the Mustangs.
South won the team title with 220.15 points followed by Service (204.025), Dimond (191.8), Chugiak (170.625), East (166.55), West (130.8), Bartlett (81) and Eagle River (58.8).
Alicia Reitz was 13th overall and Bella Wiggins was 17th for Chugiak. Other Chugiak all-around finishes included Hannah Smith (31st), Lauren Rhude (38th), Kathleen Sorensen (39th) and Irene Sexton (43rd).
Celeste Gibson — the only other Eagle River gymnast — finished 32nd all-around.
Maddie Smith said she was pleased with cracking the top five in the season finale.
“I just wanted to improve this season,” she said.
The only competition of the year where all eight conference teams participate can be nerve-racking, Maddie Smith said.
“You try and tune everyone out,” she said.
Half of the Mustangs were brand new to gymnastics this year. Training with the newbies was fun, Maddie Smith said.
“It was really cool working with them all,” she said.
Chugiak made huge improvements throughout the season, Maddie Smith said, and the Mustangs aren’t losing anyone to graduation, which bodes well for next year.
“We should have a strong team,” she said.
Kenzie Smith said she had a blast participating in her first high school season and plans to return for her senior year.
“It’s more team oriented,” she said.
Kenzie Smith took a break from her club team, Denali Gymnastics in Wasilla, to join Eagle River’s gymnastics and diving teams.
Though Saturday didn’t compare with the atmosphere of the USA Gymnastics Junior National Championships — a meet Kenzie Smith competed in earlier this year in Minnesota — there’s always pressure during competitions.
“You know what you can do. You just hope to do your best,” she said. “I prayed a lot, so that helps.”
Contact Mike Nesper at 694-2727 or firstname.lastname@example.org.