The Lady Bulldogs are back, and they proved it on their home mats.
Forsyth Central edged last year's champion, Lambert, by 1.35 points Saturday to win the 2016 Forsyth County Gymnastics Championship, hosted by Central at Dobbs Creek Recreation Center in Cumming.
Central has now won the event three of the last four years, with titles in 2013 and 2014 before Lambert took top honors a year ago.
Central sophomore Lauren Gist led the way, scoring above nine points in all four events to take the all-around individual title with a total score of 38. Gist just edged South Forsyth's Maddy Sims, who scored above 9.6 in three of her four events. Lambert's Maddy Lord placed third as an individual with 37.1 points.
“It feels great,” Gist said about her top score. “This meet was a lot more fun, everyone worked together. It's more enjoyable than club meets which can be stressful. I was definitely more relaxed.
“I tried not to think too hard about anything and just focus on doing what I do in practice,” Gist said.
Central also got a strong haul from Mackenzie Miller, who scored 9.3 on vault and 9.55 on floor. Both Gist and Miller had inopportune falls on beam, which factored into Central head coach Laurie Karickhoff's amazement with the finish.
“We knew it would be close,” Karickhoff said. “A lot of the schools have really good gymnasts. There's no defense, it's all offense, so we knew we had to stick everything. The thing is, Lauren and Mackenzie both had falls, so we counted two falls and still won. That's pretty amazing.”
The event's most successful quadrant was the floor competition, as nine athletes scored above nine in the event.
While Central's Maecie Winter helped out with a 9.4 on floor, Lambert had the most girls score above nine in events: Bethany Chung, Lord, Marleigh Powell, Biz White and Alaina Steinberg.
Sims was outstanding for South. She scored a 9.7 on vault, 9.6 on bars and 9.6 on floor. West Forsyth was led by Sienna Schreiber, who just missed a third place finish in all-around with a 9.3 on vault, 9.2 on bars, 9.5 on beam and 9 on floor.
Central finished with a final score of 109.95, followed by a 108.6 from Lambert, 103.8 from West and 102.9 from South.
With the county meet out of the way, Karickhoff is turning her team's focus to a state.
“We want a podium finish at state,” Karickhoff said. “There's a really tough Buford team and a few others we haven't seen that are tough, but we want a top three finish.”
FORSYTH COUNTY GYMNASTICS CHAMPIONSHIP
Maddy Sims, South Forsyth, 9.7
Lauren Gist, Forsyth Central, 9.6
Alaina Steinberg, Lambert, 9.4
Lauren Gist, Forsyth Central, 9.7
Maddy Sims, South Forsyth, 9.6
Madison Lord, Lambert, 9.5
Sienna Schreiber, West Forsyth, 9.5
Lauren Gist, Forsyth Central, 9.2
Madison Lord, Lambert, 9
Madison Lord, Lambert, 9.7
Maddy Sims, South Forsyth, 9.6
Mackenzie Miller, Forsyth Central, 9.55
Lauren Gist, Forsyth Central, 38
Maddy Sims, South Forsyth, 37.6
Maddy Lord, Lambert, 37.1
1. Forsyth Central 109.95, 2. Lambert 108.6, 3. West Forsyth 103.8, 4. South Forsyth 102.9