The Thornton gymnastic team was able to get off to a fair start in its season opener against Ponderosa, Aug. 22. And even though the Trojans were defeated by the Mustangs, 168-166, it was not unexpected.
“We are not at full strength at this point, but we are going to be strong this season,” said Thornton coach Phil Sailas. “We should be able to score consistent in the 170’s and I think we have the capabilities to come through with a 181 at some point. The girls are excited and ready to go hard.”
With the way gymnastics runs in Colorado, with not a lot of the larger schools even having gymnastics, Thornton is one team that actually combines athletes from four other schools — Brighton, Horizon, Northglenn and Westminster.
“There is just great potential here,” Sailas said. “All of our varsity girls are strong on floor exercise and we’ve got at least four in every other event that can score high for us. We just need to stay healthy and I think we are going to open some eyes this season.”
Some of the best eye openers should be senior Hannah Van Horn, juniors Sara Michie and Sierra Kirylo and freshman, Halle Bell. Also among the top returning gymnasts should be junior Brooklyn Edelen and sophomore Dusti Sandoval.
Bell scored a 9.5 on floor right out of the gate for Thornton in the opening meet against Ponderosa and Sailas is extremely high on what he feels she can accomplish.
“Yes, the expectations are high for this young lady,” Sailas said. “What a way to start your season, and even greater that she’s a freshman. Her confidence is high and she’s certainly one who is backing everyone on the team.”
Bell was more than pleased with her opening night, but it wasn’t unexpected.
“My best event is floor,” said Bell, who attends Brighton. “I think this season we will work well as a team. I’m just so pleased to be able to compete in high school. As a team, our key is to stay focused and work hard to always improve. What’s nice is that I do have a high school team I can compete with during the season.”
Van Horn has been best for Thornton on the uneven bars while Michie feels at home on the balance beam.
“The Bars are usually the best for me and I think it’s going to be a fine and fun season,” Van Horn said. “We support each other and that’s important. I feel really good and I think we do have an opportunity to win state as team.
“I’ve been to state on the bars and vault,” Van Horn said. “My goal is to make state this year in the all-around. We have a lot of good girls on our team and I think we can go a long ways.”
Michie is also confident she’ll qualify for state this season and has high hopes she can place among the state’s best.
“My best event is the beam and hopefully I will become much stronger on floor,” Michie said. “I want us to make state and then for several of us to reach the second day of competitions for the individual events. We’re so much better than last year and it’s great to have a lot of team bonding.”
Kirylo placed seventh in state last season on vault, and Sailas thinks she will be so much stronger this time around.
“All the varsity girls can do full flips on floor and five of the girls have Giants on the bars,” Sailias said. “That right there is a plus. Again, we just have to stay away from injuries.”