SHAWNEE, Kan. – They’re considered to be a gymnastics team that’s on the rise.
Shawnee Mission Northwest High School’s gymnastics team is about a week away from the Kansas state meet, and this young team is leading a revival of the sport at their school. Cougar gymnasts hope to take a big leap forward with a push from a school steeped in tradition.
SMNW’s gymnastics program is enjoying a new surge of interest, as a team that used to be small in numbers now boasts as many as 15 athletes, seven of whom have qualified for the upcoming state meet.
“We are continually working on our skills set,” Sarah Hink, first-year Northwest head coach, said.
Hink’s team has often placed as high as fourth at meets this season with team scores reaching the high 90s. The jolt of gymnasts is helping revive the sport at this school, which used to win state on a semi-regular basis. Shawnee Mission Northwest’s most recent state championship came in 2010.
“That’s been the growth, that relationship-wise, has helped build. It’s helped them want to gain their new skills and knowing that if they can trust me, I know you can do this skill. They’re working on it, and they know I’m proud of it,” Hink said.
The biggest share of the Cougar gymnastics program is made of sophomores, meaning this program will climb even higher. Northwest’s primary competition comes from three Olathe-based high schools, which often dominate Kansas high school gymnastics.
“When there’s more people, there’s more opportunities to score higher because there are more people,” Kadence Peel, SMNW senior gymnast, said. “When our coaches are busy, you always have a teammate who can give you corrections or help you.”
“As a team, we’re all going to improve a lot, and for me, I’m going to improve a lot. As the years come, it’s going to just go up,” Kaia Givner, Cougar sophomore gymnast, said.
As far as the upcoming state tournament, placing in the top three is the goal at Northwest. Shawnee Mission Northwest has eight state championships in school history, and this year’s club could be the first to do it in 11 years.
The potential is potent and Northwest looks forward to the payoff. They’re our latest FOX4 Hy-Vee Team of the Week.