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Originally published February 15, 2013 at 7:56 PM | Page modified February 15, 2013 at 11:36 PM

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Emerald Ridge edges Woodinville for team crown | 4A Gymnastics

In their debut appearance in the team finals, the Jaguars from Puyallup edged Woodinville by a half point, 174.05 to 173.475, while Heritage's Britni Atwell took the all-around title.

Special to The Seattle Times

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TACOMA — A second straight near miss for Woodinville, a triumphant first for Emerald Ridge.

Making its debut at a Class 4A state gymnastics team finals, Emerald Ridge of Puyallup used its proficiency on vault in the final rotation to overcome a two-point Woodinville advantage and claim its first state title, defeating the Falcons by a half point, 174.05 to 173.475, Friday at the Tacoma Dome Exhibition Hall.

With five seniors on her 12-gymnast roster, ER coach Bobbi Jones says the outcome has a storybook quality.

"For them to finish with a state championship, you can't beat that," the eighth-year coach said. "It's the best feeling in the world."

For Woodinville coach Kim Smothermon, who has guided Falcons squads to four straight state titles (2007-10), the feeling was a little less rewarding. Last year her team placed second to 4A champion Mead by 0.875 point.

"Really close," Smothermon said of Friday's finish. "The girls came out really strong. We had a few wobbles on each event, and when the difference is just half a point, that matters. But overall, the girls did really well and I'm proud of how they did."

Newport took third with 170.125 and Jefferson fourth (165.925).

Britni Atwell, a senior from Heritage of Vancouver, won the all-around, topping second-place finisher Candace Ho of Newport 37.375 to 36.7. Nicole Moss of Heritage (36.675) took third, followed by Emerald Ridge seniors Elizabeth Clemens (36.125) and CaroLyne Schmidt (35.975).

Ho jammed both ankles during her opening routine, vault, and later did the same to both knees during her first tumbling pass. Her coach, Melissa Baker, marveled at the junior's resilience.

"It's amazing she made it through that floor routine after hyperextending both knees," Baker said. "I was like, 'She done. There's no way she can finish the routine.' But she just kept going. That was true grit right there."

Ho finished fourth in all-around as a freshman, third last year as a sophomore and now second.

"Even though it was shaky, I'm glad I pulled through the whole thing," said Ho, smiling despite having ice bags wrapped around both knees. "I met my goals at state, to do better than last year. I gave it my all, so I'm happy."

Schmidt and Clemens of Emerald Ridge are former level-9 club gymnasts. Knowing vault would be her team's final routine, Schmidt felt confident her squad would finish strong.

"We were thinking we need to crush it," the 5-foot-1 Schmidt said. "We know that vault's our best event, so we went in knowing we were going to stick."

Schmidt stuck her first vault like a dagger, earning a 9.55, the meet's third-best score on the event. "We pulled out the win," she said. "It was so exciting."


• Woodinville sophomore Emily Paratore (35.825) took sixth in all-around and Madison Engel (35.2) finished ninth. Engel is Woodinville's lone senior. "We have a very young squad," Smothermon said.

• Kentlake's Ashley Pernell was eighth in all-around (35.475) and Newport's Elise Groh was 10th (34.75). Jefferson's senior twins, Monica and Shelby Church placed 14th and 16th.

• Individual event finals are scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday. Atwell will try for her fourth straight vault title. Her 9.6 was the event's top score Friday. She has also won a share of the past three floor titles.

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