THORNTON — Cierra Babb broke new ground for Rampart gymnastics on Saturday.
During the individual apparatus finals for Class 4A and 5A at Thornton High School, the sophomore claimed state championship No. 1 for the Rams by winning the 4A balance beam. Her score of 9.600 was enough to inch past Standley Lake’s Rachel Cody (all-around champion Friday) and her 9.575.
“I just couldn’t be more proud,” Rampart coach Rose Pennington said. “I can’t wait to take it back to the school. It makes me very proud to know that I have a state champion on my team.”
Before her routine, Babb received a pep talk from a Rampart assistant with quite the athletic background. Raquel Pennington, Rose’s daughter, is a UFC fighter but has been around gymnastics her entire life.
“One thing I really try to get across to the girls is just to go out there and have fun,” the professional athlete said. “As nervous as they were, I told them to go out there and just embrace the moment. Let your skills shine and that’s what Cierra did.”
Babb also garnered a silver medal in the uneven bars, posting a 9.000 for second place behind Green Mountain’s Emily Graham (9.200).
“It was pretty exciting getting second also,” she said. “I did the skills I do in practice and did well. It means a lot representing my school well.”
And so, Rampart etched their name in the record books for the first time in gymnastics with an individual champion. The program accomplished another feat, as well.
“Rampart gymnastics has been around a long time,” Rose Pennington said. “We co-oped with all the schools two years ago and we called it D-20. This is the first time ever that we came to state as a team. It’s been a great weekend.”
The Rams finished sixth on Friday in the 4A team standings. On top of that, Gabby Peltier picked up a bronze in the uneven bars (8.900) on Saturday, while Shea Kagarise earned her place on the podium by grabbing fifth in the bars (8.825).
On an evening that saw Jefferson County schools nearly sweep the 4A and 5A individual event finals across the board, Babb was an exception. As was Niwot senior Alexis Carroll.
Carroll only needed one chance in the vault to claim the gold medal in 4A with a score of 9.600. She ran too hard on her second attempt, turning off to the side at the end, but her initial run-through was a winning one.
“It wasn’t something that I was expecting,” the senior admitted. “I realized I had a shot at it after I had some good warm-up turns and had some good vaults yesterday. It was like a cherry on top. It surprised me.”
Carroll, reflecting on her second go-round, had to have a good laugh about it.
“On my second vault I just ran too hard and kind of smashed into the table,” she said. “I sort of just bailed it. But I was like, “Well, my first one was good. There’s a reason we get two.”
The Cougar went out on top in her final opportunity to do so, adding to a rich gymnastics tradition at Niwot.
Overland's Christine Yee tallied a 9.75 to earn 5A honors in the floor exercise and become the first Trailblazer to win an individual final since Devin Bundas (2014, uneven bars).