THORNTON — Sandi and Dan Patterson, take a bow as you exit the stage.
The wife and husband tandem at Green Mountain (Sandi is the head coach and Dan an assistant) is in their final weekend with the Rams before retiring from the coaching ranks.
Two decades. Three state championships. One all-around individual winner.
The Pattersons have been around the block, circling it twenty times, and picking up pieces of hardware along the way. On Friday evening at the Class 4A state gymnastics meet at Thornton High School, the couple added their third and final team trophy as Green Mountain (182.300 points) surpassed Niwot (177.775) and Elizabeth (176.625) on their way to a state title.
Entering the final meet of the Colorado season, the top candidates for the state championship seemed obvious. The trio had, after all, tallied the leading scores with ease at the regional meets last week. Green Mountain (177.675), Elizabeth (176.725) and Niwot (175.4) were the only ones to post over 170 points.
Niwot was the defending champion. Elizabeth has three state crowns and four runner-ups since 2009. But neither could top Green Mountain on this night.
“I don’t even have words,” Sandi Patterson said. “It’s the fairytale ending. It’s the perfect way to go out that you dream about, but it usually doesn’t happen. I’m just so overwhelmed.”
And, the final tally was decisive. While Standley Lake junior Rachel Cody (37.000) defended her all-around individual state championship, the Rams had the next four finishers. Camille Dipaola (36.875), Emily Graham (36.575), Mya Sinha (36.525), and Hayley Upson (36.450) all had outstanding showings.
The team, as a whole, got started on the right path from the beginning with a strong performance in their second event, the balance beam (45.65).
“I have to say the most awesome thing was we hit six-for-six on beam, which we have been unable to do all season,” Patterson said excitedly. “We magically saved it for state and we got our highest score on beam. That was the highlight for me.”
The promising early stages of the meet gave Green Mountain a 92.225-89.7 advantage over Niwot through the first two events. They kept the momentum flowing from there.
Stepping down a class after placing 10th as a team in 5A last year, Green Mountain had a vision for 2016.
“We knew we would be going to 4A and we knew we would be having all of our (state) returners coming back,” Patterson said. “They said, ‘We’re going to go for it next year.’ They worked in the offseason, they worked over the summer. I love that everybody always gives the coaches credit, but it was them.”
It proved to be a perfect recipe for a Ram team that provided Patterson with her third state crown as a coach. Green Mountain also won 5A in 2006 and 2008.
The program has now won four championships overall and, interestingly enough, their coach has been involved in some fashion in every one of them. Patterson was a member of the 1992 team that won 6A-5A.
“It’s been pretty much my life,” she said. “I’m a Ram at heart. It’s in my blood. This is just extra special. It’ll be hard to leave.”
As for the all-around competition, Cody wasn’t entirely sure if she had pulled it off. Not necessarily a total standout in one particular event, the junior is simply solid in every discipline.
“Our whole team, we usually hold pinkies when they announce team awards,” she said. “They were like, ‘Do it for Rachel.’ It was really cool. I was freaking out.”
Cody’s winning margin last season was 36.625-36.175 over Elizabeth’s Lexye Wood. Although she bettered her tally from 2015 with a 37.000, the competition was even stiffer with Dipaola posting a 36.875. Cody had scores of 9.075 (fourth) in uneven bars, 9.200 (fifth) in balance beam, and 9.225 (third) in floor. What may have pushed her to the top was the vault.
“I always tell my teammates I’m mostly an all-around gymnast,” she said. “I’m good at everything, but I’m not super, super amazing at one thing. But vault was amazing tonight. I got the highest score I’ve ever gotten.”
Cody’s 9.500, the second best mark of the evening behind only Green Mountain’s Mya Sinha (9.550), sealed back-to-back state championships.
“I’m super honored,” she said. “It’s the most amazing feeling ever. I love it.”
The state gymnastics championships resume on Saturday at 4 p.m. Individual event champions in both 4A and 5A will be crowned.