St. Paul’s rings up gymnastics title

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLINGSt. Paul's gymnast Brennan Skinner works the rings at the LHSAA Boys State Gymnastics Meet Friday at Baton Rouge High. Skinner was the Level 10 all-around champion. Show caption
Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLINGSt. Paul's gymnast Brennan Skinner works the rings at the LHSAA Boys State Gymnastics Meet Friday at Baton Rouge High. Skinner was the Level 10 all-around champion.

Entering Friday’s Louisiana High School Athletic Association Boys State Gymnastics Meet, Baton Rouge High coach Kevin Nee tagged St. Paul’s as the clear frontrunner to defend its state title in 2013.

The Wolves lived up to the hype, running away with the state championship with a score of 385.600, beating out BRHS (353.100) and Caddo Magnet (325.200) among four other schools at Baton Rouge High.

“It’s great. We feel excited,” said St. Paul’s coach Ivan Paulouski. “The kids have worked hard, and they deserve to be the state champion. They did a great job. I don’t have enough words to say everything the way I want to say. For right now, I’m excited.”

St. Paul’s was powered by the Skinner brothers, Brennan and Colin, who finished No. 1 and No. 3, respectively, in the Level 10 individual all-around competition.

Brennan Skinner, a junior and the older sibling, finished first in the pommel horse, the rings and the parallel bars for an all-around score of 77.700.

“It feels really rewarding with all the hard work that’s put into it,” Brennan Skinner said. “It’s such a good privilege to come here and do this for St. Paul’s. I’m so thankful for it every single time. It’s really fun, and I love all these guys. They’ve all worked so hard.”

Colin Skinner, one year younger, took the vault title ahead of his brother and received an all-around score of 74.500.

“We’re obviously competitive, but against each other we’ve always rooted each other on,” Brennan Skinner said. “It’s never really been about who came in first or who came on top. It’s always been about if we did well, and if we did our best that meet. That’s all that really matters.”

Sandwiched between the Skinners was St. Michael standout Brandon Watts, who finished in the top three in every event while winning the floor title, giving him an all-around score of 74.900.

Barbe’s Kyle Carter and Baton Rouge High’s Sean Reliford rounded out the top 5 in Level 10 — the higher of the two divisions.

Reliford and teammate Patrick Thang finished in the top 10 for BRHS, helping the Bulldogs jump into second place ahead of Caddo.

BRHS and Caddo were separated by less than three points in Level 5, but the 20-plus point advantage in Level 10 pushed the Bulldogs ahead of the Mustangs.

“It worked out better for us than I was anticipating,” Nee said. “I knew St. Paul was going to walk away with it, and it would be tight between us and Caddo. We did a good job at optionals to separate us from Caddo, and I think that was probably the difference. Our optional team, even though we only had three guys, they all stepped up and did a pretty good job today.”

In Level 5, St. Paul’s Stevie Vanzandt won the floor, pommel horse, parallel bars and high bars en route to the Division II all-around title with a 64.500. Baton Rouge High’s Brandon Harris finished second (58.600), followed by Caddo’s Kellen Hall (58.100).

St. Paul’s, Baton Rouge High and Caddo finished 1-2-3 in order in Level 5 and Level 10.