West Forsyth and star gymnast Schreiber looking for title repeat

Schreiber (2nd from left, top row) and West Forsyth celebrate their 2017 title.

This year’s GHSA Gymnastics State Championship will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the sport’s inaugural season in Georgia. And this Friday, April 20, all qualifying teams will compete at Ola High School in Henry County to show off their skills on the balance beam, uneven bars, vault and floor exercise. Throughout the past 50 seasons of GHSA girls gymnastics, 17 different schools have been crowned champions; 11 schools competing this Friday are seeking their first titles.

With 68 total teams participating in gymnastics during the 2017-18 season, competitors for 19 different programs qualified for the state meet. Among the top teams is defending champion West Forsyth, which edged out three-time defending champs Buford by just over one point during last year’s championship. Now that the school has gotten its first-ever team state title, it will look to prove that last year’s triumph was no fluke.

Returning for West Forsyth is junior Sienna Schreiber. As just a sophomore, Schreiber, who has been committed to the University of Missouri since 2016, placed first in the all-around at last year’s state championships with a score of 39.194. Her performance solidified her as Score Atlanta’s Gymnast of the Year. Ella Castellanos is another top gymnast for the Wolverines, and Aundria Crittenden placed second behind her first-place teammate last season with an all-around score of 38.417 during last year’s championships. Her performance earned her first place in both the floor exercise and the vault. During the preliminaries at Dunwoody High School, Crittenden, a junior, placed second on the beam and first on the floor.

Perhaps West Forsyth’s biggest roadblock on the way to a repeat title is Buford. Last year’s squad narrowly lost what would have been its fourth-consecutive title but is back ready to reclaim the trophy. Of course, they’ll have to do so without the talents of Lyndzi Jones and Claudia Goyco. The former Wolves helped lead their team to all of those titles, including last year’s runner-up season. Now with Goyco (Ball State) and Jones graduated, Buford will have to find success elsewhere. The answer may lie with Cyrena Whalen, whose pristine performance during last year’s championships gave her first place on the uneven bars with a score of 9.9. Kelsey Schulman’s performance during Buford’s meet this March at Westminster throws her into the mix of top competitors. At that event, Schulman placed first on vault, bars and floor to walk away with first place in the all-around.

At last week’s preliminary meet, North Oconee finished with the highest team total, followed by No. 2 Milton, No. 3 West Forsyth and No. 4 Buford; the Wolverines were without Schreiber and Castellanos, who were competing at an elite USA Gymnastics regional event in Florida, as were top gymnasts for Buford. Earlier this month, the GHSA passed a bylaw allowing gymnasts to compete in the state meet even if they missed preliminaries to compete for their club; previously, high school coaches were required to submit a roster, which could not change, for both prelims and the state meet.

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