On March 8, the Seattle Pacific gymnastics team etched their names in the history books, earning the fifth highest score in Seattle Pacific’s history: an eye-popping 194.025.
“I think it’s just everything coming together, and I think a lot of it is in our confidence,” sophomore Kristi Hayashida said. “There was definitely some hesitancy before, and [now we are] going in and trying to attack everything. We are very together as a team now.”
The team shattered their previous best, an impressive 193.025, by an entire point as they faced off against San Jose, Sacramento State and Utah State. For the Falcons, this was a culmination of a season’s worth of work.
“At the end of the season, things are [starting to fall] together,” head coach Laurel Tindall said.
Some gymnasts do not watch the score ticking up until they hear the final result at the end of the meet, so when the announcer calls the final score, it is a welcome accomplishment.
“We were really excited [when we heard the score],” Hayashida said. “You know all the hard work is paying off.”
Over the past few weeks, the Falcons have been putting in extra work on their floor exercises. This week, as Tindall will tell you, all that work finally paid off.
“This was the first meet where all six kids [nailed the] floor,” Tindall said.
The team scored the best on floor, a 48.800 with no scores below a 9.000. Freshman Ariana Harger received a 9.875, her personal best and the Falcon’s highest mark all season. Harger has put up top marks for the team all season, leading on the vault over the past few weeks. She scored a 9.725 this week, good enough for third on the team. Harger also scored a 9.800 on the beam this week, the best score for the team on that event.
“She did a really good job this week considering she was sick Monday and Tuesday,” Tindall said. “[Harger] hit good events, [and it was] good to see her pull through.”
Senior Sydney Clark also had a star-studded performance, putting up a 38.800 total score through four events, which earned her seventh place overall. Her top score came on the floor exercise, where she scored a 9.850, second on the team behind Harger. Clark’s overall score of 38.800 was a season high for the Falcons and also a new personal record.
“Sydney is great,” Hayashida said. “She is always cheering us on and having a great performance for her is always great. [She had] a great meet last night.”
Overall, it was a historic meet for the Falcons. However, the team still sees room for improvement.
“What is encouraging is that we can do even better,” Hayashida said. “We had a fall and some deductions here and there. We can get higher than a 194.”
Hayashida thinks the team can score within the 195 range. This would easily break the 194.575 school record the team set just over a year ago.
“195 has been a goal for us,” Hayashida said. “That is definitely doable if we can make little adjustments and pull a few tenths here and there. It adds up, and it’s obtainable.”
The team now sets its sights on next week’s meet at Oregon State. Also at this meet are Lindenwood University and San Jose State. This meet is unique because it features four teams but will prove useful as preparation for the postseason.
“I definitely think that having these four-way meets at the end of the season are helping us prepare,” Tindall said. “[There is] more noise, more everything, in a four-way meet.”
Lindenwood is one of the few Division II gymnastic programs SPU competes against and is ranked higher than the Falcons.
“[Lindenwood] didn’t score that well this week, and we would like to go in there and compete with them [at the] top of the rankings,” Tindall said.
For the gymnasts, having the extra incentive is nice, but that does not mean they can take their focus off their own performance.
“I think it gives us extra motivation, but we can’t get distracted,” Hayashida said. “We need to continue to keep the focus on ourselves and [do] the best we can. That will lead to a better score.”
The meet will take place on March 14 at 7 p.m. in Corvallis, Oregon.