Boys gymnasts vie for state title Friday

Two hundred gymnasts from nearly 30 schools across the state will convene at Baton Rouge High this weekend for the 2013 LHSAA State Gymnastics Meet.

The boys will begin action Friday afternoon with 40 participants from seven schools starting competition at 1:30 p.m. The girls follow suit Saturday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. with 160 gymnasts from 27 schools competing.

BRHS coach Kevin Nee said the numbers on the girls side are up from the typical 120-130 gymnasts that have participated in recent years, leaving the competition more wide open than ever.

“Caddo won it last year, but St. Joseph is looking awful strong,” Nee said, assessing the girls’ pool of talent. “I have seen Caddo and I have seen St. Joseph and St. Amant, and of those, St. Joseph is looking really good. I have a feeling they’ll be right up there in the mix. Caddo won it last year, so they have to be put up there also.”

Nine of the top 13 teams from last season’s meet are returning in 2013 in the girls division.

Nee also pegged Catholic High-New Iberia and East Ascension High School as potential dark horses more because of the schools’ pedigrees as opposed to actual performances this season.

“Those are a couple of teams that I’m not real sure about, but because of where their people come from, they should be pretty strong,” Nee said. “I haven’t seen those people yet. The unknowns with Catholic-New Iberia and East Ascension, we’ll just have to wait and see.”

As far as his Bulldogs go, Nee is being a realist.

BRHS is sending 16 gymnasts to the competition, but only one in the upper level, meaning every tenth Malorie Faulk tallies will count toward the Bulldogs’ score.

“Breaking the top three would be a great achievement for our team this year,” said Nee, who is glad to have some leeway with the rest of his squad. “We have backups. We have more than what is needed. So if somebody stumbles or breaks down a little bit, at least we have a little insurance on the back side so maybe somebody might step up.”

The boys side of the meet is a little more cut and dry in Nee’s eyes.

Caddo, BRHS, St. Paul’s and St. Michael are each sending multiple gymnasts, but Nee said he felt “very sure” that St. Paul’s would walk away with the state title.

The Wolves are powered by twins Brennan and Colin Skinner and are the early frontrunners going into the weekend. Second place, though, is still up for grabs with six of the top eight schools from 2012 competing again this year.

“Number-wise, Caddo on paper looks better than we do in boys because they have more guys in the upper level than we do,” Nee said. “I’m just hoping that we can come up and do something about it. Baton Rouge High and Caddo will be working for second place in team.”

Award ceremonies are tentatively set for 3 p.m. each day.