GHSA Gymnastics Championship Preview

The 2023 GHSA Gymnastics State Championships will be held at the Buford Arena for the third-straight year and will crown the state’s next round of champions following a terrific season of meets. Prelims will occur on Wednesday at Buford before champions are crowned on Friday, April 21. In 2019, the sport introduced a separate Class 6A-7A and Class A-5A division for the first time and crowned two separate team champions. The West Forsyth Wolverines captured the Class 6A-7A title—which gave the program its third-straight team championship and North Oconee won the Class A-5A state crown. The following season in 2021 after the 2020 season was called off saw Newnan take the Class 6A-7A state title with a 114.680 score. Buford came up short with a second-place finish and would return to the top the following year. North Oconee defended its first title with a 113.746 championship performance in Class A-5A to cap the 2021 season. Then, the Titans extended their dynasty again in 2022 with the program’s third-straight championship, while Buford took the Class 6A-7A field to capture its fourth all-time state title and first since 2016.

This week will see the best of the best as qualifiers had to meet the following standards—an All-Around score of 34.0 or better in regular season meets, an individual score of 8.50 or better on the Beam and Bars and a 9.0 or better on Vault and Floor in three regular-season meets.

Stacked Championship Scene

The Wolves will once again be led by Marissa Ashton—who took first place in the Vault and the All-Around (38.975) title in 2022. Ashton also picked up a second place finish in the Beam and fourth place in the Floor. The Class of 2023 senior is a Level 10 gymnast and national qualifier and will look to repeat and fuel another Buford title run with a strong supporting cast that shares championship experience. Buford dominated the Floor with Bellarae Newby earning a second-place finish and Lily Black tallying a third-place finish and both standouts return. North Oconee won last year’s team title with 113.800 points—as Pike County’s Maelyn Crow dominated the field. Crow has since graduated and was named the USA Today High School Gymnast of the Year. She scored perfect 10.0’s in the Beam, Floor and Vault and her 9.700 Bars routine also earned a top finish to fuel her 39.700 All-Around title. North Oconee used its depth and previous championship experience to out-pace the field and earned a runner-up and third-place finish in every event behind Crow. Chloe McDonald earned third in the All-Around (37.600), Bars (92.50), Floor (9.575) and Vault (9.750) and will be returning the bulk of the Titans’ experience.

History in the Making

North Oconee has an opportunity to become the first school since Roswell (2000-03) to win four-straight titles and enters the prelims at the top of the state-wide Class A-5A rankings with a 109.900 score. Oconee County (108.967) and last year’s state runner-up Bremen (106.133) are currently at No. 2 and No. 3 in the rankings and West Forsyth is also highly-ranked after placing third at last year’s state meet.

In Class 6A-7A, defending state champion Buford has a state-best 112.517 score at the top of the poll. The rest of the Class 6A-7A rankings are extremely tight with North Forsyth (109.333) at No. 2, Carrollton (109.250) at No. 3 and Forsyth Central (108.717) rounding out the top 5 with Walton (108.117). Carrollton finished runner-up to Buford last year and is returning Kalani Witherspoon—who took first place in the Floor last year (9.90) and third in the Beam (9.700). Witherspoon earned the top finish in the Floor, however, Buford took the second, third and fourth place to fuel their team title. Forsyth Central’s Katie Andrews is also back after taking third place in the All-Around, and second in the Vault (9.600).

Friday’s action will begin with warm-ups at 5 p.m. and champions are expected to be crowned around 7:30 p.m.



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