HIGH SCHOOL GYMNASTICS: Permian, Odessa High show improvements at Harold Green Invitational

    The Permian and Odessa High boys and girls gymnastics teams competed in the Harold Green Invitational Saturday afternoon — giving their coaches a chance to see how much they’ve improved thus far this season.

    All four teams had to look up at San Angelo Central as the Bobcats’ boys and girls teams finished atop the team standings.

    Permian’s boys (144.700) team finished in second place, four points behind San Angelo Central, with Odessa High’s boys ending up third (140.900).

    The Lady Panthers weren’t far off the pace set by the Lady Cats (108.450), finishing less than two points off the top of the podium (106.900). The Lady Bronchos finished in fourth place (83.400), with only three gymnasts competing.

    The Permian girls scored four points higher in the optional meet than it did during last week’s optional round of the Mojo Invitational.

    “As a whole, my team stepped it up and did a great job overall at every event,” Permian girls head coach Brandi Simmons said. “Even though we improved the points that we did, the idea is to improve with the way that we perform. Hopefully it’s just in addition to what we have to come later on.”

    Simmons pointed to the team’s performance on balance beam as to where the major improvements happened. Last weekend, the Lady Panthers didn’t have the best luck staying on top of the beam, but Saturday, they were more solid.

    The Lady Panthers efforts were spearheaded by Joannaly Gonzalez, who finished first in the girls’ all-around (36.85), seven-tenths of a point ahead of San Angelo Central’s Mary Grace Thompson (36.15). 

    Gonzalez was able to step up with two teammates out with injuries and finish in the top three of every event. Gonzalez also won the floor exercise with a score of 9.800.

    “It means a lot to me. It was my job to go up and do what I had to do and try to make up for the injuries that we had,” Gonzalez said. “I think it’s a lot to push yourself to do it for your team, but it’s definitely worth it.”

    The Odessa High girls added Brittney Paredes to the lineup this weekend, who placed sixth in the all-around (34.500).

    “It’s a work in progress is the way that I look at it,” Odessa High girls head coach Lisa Torrain said. “Rome wasn’t built in a day.

    “We have a really small team and a little bit at a time, a little more improvement meet after meet, I’m going to be happy. I don’t care if you fall a thousand times, if you get up there and you look good and you’re still commanding that audience, I’m happy.”

    The Permian boys had a rougher event than they did last week. On its opening event of the day, the floor exercise, one of Permian’s top gymnasts, Ryan Dominguez, injured his ankle and was out for the rest of the day.

    “You have two hands tied behind your back and we’re still going pretty tough,” Permian boys head coach Chris Soto said about the event. “I like that about the team. It’s hard to maintain focus when you’re missing a guy, especially one of your key athletes.”

    That left the Panthers having to fill a spot for the rest of the event that was usually one that was locked in.

    “From my perspective, it’s good to see that your team remains strong and focused all the way through a meet,” Soto said. “We lost sight at times and truthfully they really could have overcome those things. It’s good practice.”

    Bronchos’ head coach Tony Gonzalez said he saw improvement from his team since last weekend. The team’s optional score went up by a point.

    Coach Gonzalez said he team did better on high bar and rings, but could have done even better without a rough start to the day on pommel horse.

    “You always have to go back to the drawing board but these guys are working,” Coach Gonzalez said. “I think I saw a little bit of physical stress, not so much mental. I think with the weeks coming, they’re going to get stronger, so hopefully we’ll overcome that.”

    Up next for both Permian teams is a trip to the Metroplex for the Chisholm Trail Invitational next weekend. Both Odessa High teams have this coming weekend off, but will have their next meet Feb. 3 at their home gym when they welcome teams from Permian, Abilene High and Abilene Cooper for a compulsory meet.

    Watching the action from the floor for the entire event was the event’s namesake, Harold Green.

    “The difficulty of the routines has improved tremendously,” Green said. “It’s great to be remembered and I appreciate the fact that they named the meet after me, I always wanted to do everything I could to help kids and it’s nice and I really enjoy seeing the improvement of all of the gymnasts.”