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BOYS GYMNASTICS: Permian takes fifth, Odessa High finishes sixth at state championships - Odessa American: Boys

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BOYS GYMNASTICS: Permian takes fifth, Odessa High finishes sixth at state championships

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Posted: Saturday, April 29, 2017 11:27 pm

Before Saturday’s optional round of the Texas High School Gymnastics Championships started, Permian boys head coach Chris Soto chatted with Rockwall head coach Cameron Sweeney.

Both knew that reaching the top three teams was going to be difficult and no one could catch either of their teams from behind, so the Panthers and Yellowjackets were in a head-to-head duel for fourth and fifth place.

Soto knew that whichever team stayed on the most equipment in the Permian Fieldhouse was going to take fourth and unfortunately for Permian — it wasn’t meant to be.

The Panthers (330.050) finished fifth at the state meet — less than seven-tenths behind Rockwall (331.200) for fourth place. Bryan Rudder took home the team state title (342.00), leading the pack by a full point. Kingwood (341.000) took second and Saginaw (340.750) finished third.

Permian’s two-day state-meet record score of 344.275 stays intact. The Panthers achieved that in 2004 — the last time the meet was held in Odessa before this year.

Bryan Rudder’s Timothy Fletcher (117.050) won the individual all-around state title.

“It’s a learning lesson and there’s room to grow as a team,” Soto said. “We’re going to be here next year again as a team and were going to now know to handle it a lot better.”

After having its best one-day score of the season Friday, no matter what the Panthers did during the optional round, it was going to be hard to match that consistent form.

Permian gave its all to try to match that — but it was clear from the first event that it was going to be a permanent game of catch-up.

“The only thing you can hope for is to do your best and once that happens, the outcome is the outcome,” Permian’s Darryl Stephens said. “I believe that (my team) put in maximum effort for everything.”

The lesson Permian was forced to learn throughout the day was that the judges only got pickier as the state meet went on.

Every little movement or fall cost teams more and more as the optional event went along and for Permian that was quite costly.

“It could be a toe point here and there — a step here and there, it’s insanely small,” Stephens said about the difference between fourth and fifth. “We just have to step it up. We have to focus more on tightness and form.”

Permian had three gymnasts earn all-state honors at the meet (Esteban Rodriguez, vault; Brandon Dominguez, all-around; Ryan Dominguez, parallel bars) with only Rodriguez not returning to the team next year.

In all, the Panthers are only losing two gymnasts this year to graduation and retain their top-five all-around scorers. They also improved from seventh to fifth at the state meet from last year.

“The team is not going to dwell on this wondering. They’re going to use it to their advantage,” Soto said. “The goal is to be one of the top three teams in the state. They’re has to be a lot learning that’s taking place on all sides.”

>> ODESSA HIGH TAKES SIXTH: The Odessa High boys improved on its position from the compulsory round — gaining one spot to finish sixth and earn the first team trophy in program history.

When Tony Gonzalez first took over the program, this was one of his goals he set out to accomplish.

“It’s monumental for many reasons,” Gonzalez said. “It’s something we’ve wanted to achieve since the very beginning. We set a goal and we stayed on it and didn’t budge.”

Despite not getting the start they wanted on floor or pommel horse, the Bronchos found a way to stay strong throughout the last four events to keep chipping away at San Angelo Central and Fort Worth Boswell for the last team-trophy spot and eventually passing both teams.

“It just opened our eyes,” Odessa High senior Kaleb Redwine said. “We can even do more because today was not our best day and we know that.

“We’re leaving a little piece of us, a little history. I think future teams are going to want to beat that.”

Redwine was one of two Odessa High gymnasts to earn all state honors as he did that on high bar. Fellow senior Clayton King claimed an all-state spot on floor.

Redwine and King aren’t done with high school gymnastics with the state championships yet though.

The two Bronchos were among the dozen selected to represent Texas at the national meet next month in Arizona.

The Bronchos will return everyone but the two of them next season.

“They got a taste of what it takes to get to this point,” Gonzalez said.

>> Follow Eric Blum on Twitter @EricBlumOA

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