Last season's state meet brought deep disappointment, which led to a months-long downward spiral that threatened to destroy Natalie's love for gymnastics. Her skills regressed and at times it felt like we were riding a sinking ship. But she conquered paralyzing fear and slowly clawed her way back, not only regaining lost ground, but culminated her season by reaching new heights.
One year ago, she was presented with the consolation prize medal that all participants that did not place at the state meet were awarded. The morning of this year's meet, she told her dad that she was excited and nervous and that she couldn't stop thinking about that afternoon's competition. Then she said, "I just don't want a 'thanks for coming' medal again this year."
The theme of the meet was "Girls on Fire." The venue was terrible in terms of viewing for spectators, but the special effects and decorations were pretty cool, even if it did make the room a bit smoky.
Natalie was definitely on fire. She did her very best and even scored personal bests on three out of four events.
Natalie has always been an amazing vaulter but it was on the beam where she made the biggest gains. This meet marked her first ever 9 on beam when she scored a 9.175! What a great milestone.
And perhaps an even greater milestone was achieved when she scored her first 37 all-around! I'm not so sure any of us ever thought that possible. But she did it and we were beside ourselves with excitement!
See that medal? That's no 'thanks for coming' medal. That's an official USA gymnastics medal awarded for her 5th place finish. She looked slightly disappointed on the podium because I think she thought her score would place her higher, but she was definitely happy with her performance.
And her team was the state championship team for the seventh year in a row! Natalie contributed to the team score with her vault. So fun to be a part of a winning team.
A total of 294 girls competed level 4 at the Washington state meet. Nat was 5th in her age group but 26th of those 294. That puts her in the top 8% of all level 4s in the state. Wow. And to think of all she had to overcome to arrive at that spot! This was also a milestone meet because it was officially her last compulsory (meaning all gymnasts do the same routines) competition.
Natalie's fire was definitely rekindled and this high is currently motivating her to acquire the new skills necessary to become an optional (meaning gymnasts do their own unique routines) gymnast.
Congrats on making this a great season, Natty. We're so proud of you!