Sometimes winning is more than capturing a gold medal.
The L.D. Bell boys didn’t win gold at the recent Texas High School Gymnastics Coaches Association State Meet at Chisholm Trail. In fact, they weren’t even in the top 10, finishing 12th out of 26 team.
But they made it back to state, bucking some pretty serious odds. They kept the Bell tradition going, perhaps even adding a new and special chapter in the process.
Bell boys coach Sean Sims praised his team for reaching state despite some huge obstacles.
“Our team dealt with a lot this year,” Sims said. “We had two seniors quit pretty early, one that had the potential to be floor and vault state champion. That left Cameron (Gardner) trying to do the best he could to be a leader, hard when you’re the only senior, and Mikko (Macapagal, junior) and Mic (Egger, junior) did a nice job of helping.
“Then, in the spring, Cameron lost his mother. As you can imagine, that’s a huge blow to any teenager.”
In addition, another contributor left the team, and yet another broke his arm in a motocross race.
Gardner captured two medals for the Blue Raiders, tying for ninth in the vault and tying for 10th in the rings. Macapagal tied for eighth in the pommel horse.
“Through all that, Cameron stepped up and was a leader,” Sims said. “Mic and Mikko were leaders as well and learned they could do more than they thought. Mic did all-around after only doing two events last year. Mikko did two events this year and was a top-10 finisher on the pommel horse.”
While the team had more than its share of challenges, it also allowed for some valuable growth among the younger players, Sims said.
“The freshmen grew a lot,” he said. “None of them could do all of the compulsory routines when the year started. They made huge improvements. The growth of the freshmen and the incoming freshmen lead to a lot of hope for a better next year.”
Rapp adds to Bell title legacy
Victoria Rapp captured a gold medal in floor competition, bringing to 44 the total of individual championships won by a Lady Raider since the school began competing nearly five decades ago. They won their first gold medal in 1967, the team championship.
The Lady Raiders came very close to winning their 20th team championship and their first since 2006, finishing second to San Angelo Central by a score of 232.775 to 229.950.
Bell girls posted seven top-five finishes and another in the top 10. Along with her gold, Rapp finished fourth in the vault.
Jordan Gray, a gold medalist in the uneven bars in 2014, tied for third. She also tied for fifth in the vault and for fifth in all-around.
Alexis Martin tied for third on the beam and was fifth in floor. She was 10th all-around.
Between their programs, the Bell girls and boys have combined for 36 team titles and 121 individual state championships in their history.
The Trinity girls finished 12th in the team competition this season.
Trinity boys finish strong
The Trojans finished sixth, their highest finish since 2008. They were led by Donovan Yancy’s ninth-place finish on the high bar.
Coach Travis Coulbourn praised his squad for such a solid conclusion to what he termed a challenging season. On its way to state, the team had to deal with some injuries.
“After all or our struggles and setbacks throughout the year, the team finished the year strong with a great two days of competition,” he said. “As a whole, they handled the pressure of the state meet really well. They kept their focus on the job at hand and didn’t let nerves get in the way of them being successful on the big stage.”