ARVADA — It might seem like an eternity ago when Pomona’s gymnastics team celebrated its record breaking fifth consecutive Class 5A team state title on Nov. 7, 2019 at Thornton High School.
The Panthers became the first large-school classification gymnastics program to win five straight team state titles, not to mention outgoing Wheat Ridge senior Kaylie Berens claiming her second individual all-around title competing for the Panthers to finish out her impressive high school career.
A lot has happened world-wide since Pomona posed for pictures with that state title in hand.
“It’s been kind of weird. I’m not going to lie,” said Wheat Ridge senior Teagan Watkins, who competes for Pomona. “It has been good. I’m glad we had a season because we’ve all been working hard not even knowing if we would have a season. The unknown is so stressful at times.”
Tradition Fall sports — gymnastics, boys soccer, volleyball and field hockey — all were pushed back to the current Season C due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The gymnastics season began with official practices on March 8 and are scheduled to wrap up on April 24 at Thornton High School with the final day of the state meet.
“It’s been strange obviously, but it’s been good because for both coaches and athletes we’ve learned how to be really flexible,” Pomona coach Tracey Boychuk said.
Boychuk has focused on giving her six seniors all the opportunities they can get to compete during this shortened season.
“When I make the line-up I put my seniors in there first. I put them in the events that they are ready on,” Boychuk said. “We’ve got four seniors who can do the all-around so I’ve been putting them in there first and filling in from there. None of them will be competing in college, so I want to give them as much competition time as I can.”
When it comes to winning that sixth straight championship, Boychuk is hopeful but realistic when it comes to extending Pomona’s championship dynasty.
“If it was the Fall, I would say absolutely,” Boychuk said of Pomona’s chances of winning a sixth straight team title. “When you have your top four girls out because of injures — broken foot, meniscus, COVID and a back — there isn’t much you can do.”
Mia Tims is one of those injured gymnasts that hurts Pomona’s depth. Tims placed second in the all-around behind Berens last school year as a junior. Still, never say never to this tradition rich program.
“A lot of us have never not won the state title. You want to strive to that spot,” Watkins said. “We also have realistic expectations too. We are just going to do our best and put out who is ready.”
Pomona closes out its regular season with the Jeffco League Championships on Friday, April 9. It will be different looking conference championship meet. Instead of one site, the nine Jeffco programs will split up to three different sites — Arvada West, Bear Creek and Evergreen — with all three triangular meets set to start at 5:30 p.m.
The regional meets will take place next week. The 5A state meet is currently scheduled for April 22 and 24 at Thornton High School.
“It’s been crazy and a whirlwind,” is how Ralston Valley senior Caroline Glaze described the gymnastics season. “It has been super fast and obviously with COVID everything is different, but it has been fun to be back out here together and being able to do what we love to do.”
No matter what happens in the last few weeks of Season C, getting back on the mats, vault, beams and bars has clearly been what is most important.
“I’m so grateful we had a season even if it didn’t go the way we exactly thought it would go,” Watkins said. “Personally, I got the opportunities this year as a senior to still get to compete. That has been special.”
Glaze agreed with her fellow senior.
“The main focus has been having fun and being together for our last few weeks of our last semester of high school,” Glaze said. “This is our last final ride together. We are soaking in every moment.”