A golden season for the Howell Gymnastics team


Thomas Lassiter, Co-Sports Editor

Last Friday, the Howell Gymnastics Team ended its standout season at the state team championship meet in Rockford. The Highlanders had one of the best seasons in the history of the school. Hours of work appears to have paid off, for the Highlanders finished fourth in the state behind Rockford, Canton and Grand Ledge after a 9th place state finish in 2014.

Not many students in Howell know about the great success the gymnastics team has had in recent years. But they are slowly gaining notoriety within the student body. The Highlander gymnasts deserve more than just acknowledgement. Their regular season record this year was 13-1.

“The gymnastics team is starting to be more recognized and we really like that. We are definitely more known than in previous years, but we wish more students were there to support us,” Junior co-captain Samantha Rauch says.

After long hours of combined practices with the Brighton Bulldogs, they put the rivalry aside to encourage each other throughout the season.

“We are all such good friends and basically just one big family. We work together at practice and competitions and constantly support each other,” Rauch says.

After losing the very first dual meet of the season by a fraction of a point to Brighton, the Highlanders rattled off overwhelming wins in each and every dual meet since. Momentum was flowing as Howell cartwheeled into the regional meet in Haslett.

The Highlanders were perhaps a top favorite going into the meet. A top four finish in the Canton and Rockford Invitationals had them beating and competing with the state’s best teams. Howell was poised for success in the regional at Haslett High.

“Everyone was extremely awake and peppy that (regionals) morning. No one was dragging their feet. We were all ready for the day and for the challenge that was ahead of us,” sophomore Madeline Lassitter says.

With victory in mind, the Highlanders stormed out of the gate.They jumped out to an early lead on the first event of the day, the balance beam. A great team effort pushed them into first place. That event set the tone for the rest of the meet as every team would then be playing catch up to the Highlanders.

As floor and vault concluded, the Highlanders had a minute lead over Jackson Lumen Christi heading into the last event, the uneven bars.

With first place hanging in the balance, the Highlanders needed a great performance to seal the deal. Kirsten Phifer did achieve that with an impressive score of 9.25. That score solidified Howell’s first place position and gave the Highlanders their first regional title in the history of Howell gymnastics.

“I was super happy, but I knew we could do it from the start. We just performed like normal and did what we know how to do best,” junior Kirsten Phifer says.

A fourth place team finish at states concluded the remarkable year. The Highlanders had completed a feat unmatched by any class of gymnasts before them.

Since it was Howell’s first regional title, it’s an amazing feeling to be part of it. We all worked so hard all season and that hard work paid off,” sophomore Kacy Wolfram says.

Bringing home a regional title is a huge step for this tightly knit squad.

“I am very proud of this finish. We came out and finished as the highest Howell Gymnastics team ever and claimed the first regional trophy Howell has ever had! I think that we all need to stay strong as a team and as a family and help each other out and we will keep getting the results if the work and time is put in,” senior co-captain Marisa DeCamp says.