Elizabeth secures the 4A gymnastics state championship

(Paul Soriano/CHSAANow.com)

THORNTON — Elizabeth won the Class 4A state gymnastics championship Friday night, and in the process, gained a large measure of satisfaction.

The Cardinals, motivated by a third-place finish at state in 2018, returned to the top by defeating Green Mountain, 179.700-177.375. 

“We definitely wanted to come back from that finish,” admitted head coach Stacey Folmar. “That was not satisfying to any of us all year long. We went right back to work immediately after the season.”

Elizabeth was led by senior Austin Coleman and freshman Madison Montoya, who finished third and fourth, respectively, in the all-around competition behind champion Mia Curry of Niwot and Sarah Hitchcock of Green Mountain.

“Finishing third was great but it really motivated us to work our butts off to improve in our gymnastics and I think it brought us closer together as a team,” said Coleman. “That’s why we did so well tonight because of our team and our coaches. It was just amazing.”

The last time Elizabeth won the state title was in 2017. Overall, it marks the fifth gymnastics crown in the school’s history.

“I am so ecstatically proud of these girls,” said Folmar. “They knew what they needed to do, they came in and hit … they all had each other’s backs. It was just a really fun year. This is a really special group of seniors for me and it’s great to just bring it to fruition.”

Curry, a sophomore, finished with an all-around score of 37.000. She finished first in the floor exercise (9.475), second in the uneven bars (9.2), third in the balance beam (9.175) and fifth in the vault (9.15). 

But it wasn’t enough for the Cougars, last year’s state champions who finished third with a team score of 174.525.

“Going into the meet I was here for my team trying to get the best scores I could get for them to get us that team score that could help us win,” Curry revealed. “Me winning all-around was just the icing on the cake. I did the best that I could.”

Elizabeth held a slight edge over Green Mountain after the first two rotations (90.775-87.6), but knew that there was still work to be done.

“It was tough, because when we start on floor and vault, those are traditionally higher-scoring events, so we knew not to get very comfortable, because those are the easiest two to hit, for us anyway,” Folmar admitted. “To start that second half on beam they way that they did … they just nailed it; they rocked it. 

“They knew what they needed to do and did it,” she added. “After balance beam, we were feeling really good.”

Coleman won the beam with a score of 9.35 to lead the Cardinals to a first-place finish in the event, and after the meet, she beamed with pride at the thought of what had just transpired.

“I am feeling great! I’m very happy right now,” she said. “We worked so hard this whole entire season and it just really showed through tonight. I’m trying to hold back the tears. It’s amazing! I can’t even describe this feeling right now.”

As she watched her team hug, scream, cry and celebrate after winning the trophy, Folmar couldn’t help but smile as she thought of her seniors, who won two state championships.

“It’s a special group for me, and I am just so happy to see them go out this way.”