ARVADA — Two-time defending Class 5A gymnastics state champion Pomona has the defending 5A individual all-around champion Brooke Weins back.
However, there is a possibility the junior won't have the opportunity to defend her all-around title. Weins had her left ankle heavily wrapped during the Panthers' first official practice on Monday. It was evidence left behind after suffering a broken ankle four months ago during a floor routine.
"I want to win (all-around) at state again, but if it doesn't happen I'm not going to be super bummed out," said Weins, who added her beam and bars routines will be even stronger this year with her only being able to practice on those two events so far since the injury.
Weins was cleared by doctors to compete on the beam and bars — events she won during the individual apparatus competition at state last year — but there is a chance she might not be able to compete in the floor and vault this fall.
"I'm just trying to get everything back," said Weins, who has committed to the University of Missouri for gymnastics. "I want to do my best and prove that I can be as good as I was."
Weins has dealt with injuries earlier in her prep career. It's clear Pomona coach Tracey Boychuk isn't counting Weins out to make her mark this season.
"She is a hard worker and if she gets something in her mind that she wants to do she is going to do it," coach Boychuk said of last year's 5A all-around state champion. "I don't doubt that we'll have her on bars at some point and probably beam. I'm not going to push her to tumble or vault this year."
Something positive coming out not having Weins at 100 percent to start the season is Pomona has the type program that has the depth to overcome injuries. Senior Kelsey Boychuk, the coach's daughter, and sophomore Kaylie Berens are two more returning all-state gymnasts besides Weins.
Some other Panthers who will step into bigger roles are sophomore Audrey Brandt, junior Katie Olson and senior Sarah Hooper.
"Anything can happen," Boychuk said, looking back on her fall on the beam during the team competition at state that cost her a shot at a third-straight all-around title. "We always have each other's backs. We know we need more girls to step up for Brooke in floor and vault."
Boychuk won the 5A all-round title in 2014 and 2015. She is coming off winning the vault last year. The senior said she is more focused on team goals going into this year.
"This year for me it's more about the team doing well then me individually. I want to see if this team can get three in a row," said Boychuk, who is committed to Iowa State University. "I just want to enjoy every second of it no matter what happens, the good and the bad."
If Pomona can pull of a three-peat, the Panthers would be closer to matching Bear Creek's feat of winning fourth-straight titles from 1974 to 1977.
"That's definitely in the back of our minds," coach Boychuk said of a three-peat. "But just like last year, it's a goal but we have to stay healthy, get what we need to get out of our routines and hit when it counts."
Coach Boychuk likes the make-up of her team with six seniors to help lead the team through the ups and downs of the season.
"It's great to have that leadership and those are the kids who really want to be here," said coach Boychuk, who talked about how all her seniors stayed late to work with young inspiring gymnasts during Pomona pee-wee camp it held before the start of the season.
Pomona's first regular-season action will be hosting a meet with Bear Creek and defending 4A state champion Green Mountain on Aug. 30. The Rams have plenty of talent, but a new coach with Taelore Fehr taking over the program after the successful wife and husband tandem of Sandi and Dan Patterson stepped down after the end of the 2016 season to spend more time supporting their three sons in their athletic activities.
- Regular season begins: Aug. 24
- Regionals: Oct. 28
- State championship: Nov. 2-4, Thornton HS