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Gymnastics: Forsyth Central, East Forsyth finish 4th at state meet
Forsyth Central's Katie Andrews performs her floor routine Friday during the Class 6A-7A state gymnastics meet. - photo by David Roberts

BUFORD — First-year programs typically do not compete for state championships.

Yet that is exactly what East Forsyth's gymnastics team did Friday at the GHSA Class 1A-5A state meet, finishing fourth in the classification with a score of 97.700.

"They were a little nervous, but we just kept talking about how we just want them to have fun because they are here, they are in the Final Four, and they've worked so hard to get here," East coach Lynne Tatum said. "Just have fun and don't have any pressure because they've made it this far in their first year, and half of them are freshmen anyway. We've got three freshmen, so we're young, and just to be here is an honor."

Forsyth Central also placed fourth in the Class 6A-7A competition with a score of 105.975, advancing past the preliminary round earlier in the week to become one of the last four teams standing Friday.

Buford [113.900] won the Class 6A-7A competition, while North Oconee [113.800] finished first in the Class 1A-5A competition.

"When you get to this level of competition and you actually see girls that have committed to Georgia and things like that and you see that level of competition, it's inspiring," Central coach Chris Woodall said. "They do understand that they're a part of that. That was a big talk that we gave them, was to know it's an honor to be here and to represent your school."

Central freshman Katie Andrews finished third in all-around scoring, collecting a 37.400 and receiving a 9.200 or above in all four events. Andrews' best showing came in vault with a 9.600, the third-highest score in the event.

She also added a 9.300 on bars and in her floor routine, plus a 9.200 on beam.

"She had a good day," Woodall said. "She was not happy with herself, but that's the hard part to get through these girls. They feel like they're never good enough, and they are good enough. It's a sport where there's always some new skill and something to work toward ... her normal, her ordinary is so much better than a lot. They just don't realize that."

East freshman Katelynne Tatum finished fourth in all-around scoring in the Class 1A-5A classification with a 37.500.

Tatum also shined in vault with a 9.700 — also the third-highest score in the event — and posted a 9.375 in floor, 9.250 on beam and 9.175 on bars.

East entered Friday's meet with plenty of momentum, edging North Oconee during a competition earlier this month and posting a strong 106.375 in the preliminary meet.

"It was a huge accomplishment for them," Tatum said of East's win against North Oconee earlier this month. "I think it just got them really pumped up to get into the prelims, because it was right after spring break and coming into prelims."

Friday's meet also marked Woodall's last as Central's head coach, as he will move into an administrative role at the school next year.

"To finish out taking the team to a state meet, a lot of these girls I've worked with them in club and I've known them for six or seven years," Woodall said. "I've watched them grow up in middle school, knowing they're coming to high school. Now they have one more year after this as a team together."