You never saw this in Beijing.
Saturday, at the Free State Invitational gymnastics meet, a handstand contest broke out.
Class by class, all of the girls in the gym faced off in a last-man-standing handstand competition. Free State's Kelcy Bowers won the battle of the sophomores, but got nothing more than a pat on the back for winning.
"It's a lot of fun," Bowers said. "Basically, it's a good way to stall while we're waiting for the scores."
Once the scores were finalized, the pats on the back turned into all-out elation, as the Firebirds not only won the team competition but also placed two girls in the top three of the individual all-around competition.
Bowers, taking her first stab in the all-around in a couple of weeks, placed third. She filled the role of playful crowd-pleaser on the floor exercise, the Firebirds' last event, and scored an 8.55. Moments earlier, on the beam, she finished fifth with an 8.35. In addition, she placed sixth on the vault (8.65) and third on the uneven bars (8.075) to give her a total of 33.625, less than two points behind Drue Davis.
"My bar routine was very consistent and on the beam I didn't fall once," Bowers said. "It went really, really well."
If Bowers' day went well, Davis' day was out of this world. Davis finished first in the vault (9.15), beam (9.0) and floor exercise (9.225) and was fifth on the bars (8.05).
"We've set it up so that if I hit my routines, I'll come out well in the results," Davis said. "But I'm really not too worried about that. I'm just trying to get more consistent and get my routines down, and I'm just so proud of the team. We didn't even place at our own meet last year, so to win it today was just great."
The Firebirds would not have been in a position to win the team title had it not been for a gutsy performance from senior Amelia Firns-Hubert. Out with an injured toe, Firns-Hubert was coerced into competing on the uneven bars to give the Firebirds the necessary number of participants (three) to earn a team score.
Her routine was not her best, she finished with a 7.425 and skipped the dismount, but was enough to earn the respect and appreciation of her teammates.
"If we didn't have that, there's no way we could have won," Davis said. "I'm so proud of Amelia for stepping up and doing that."
Shorthanded yet again, the Lawrence High team had its bright spots from Saturday's meet, as well. Maria Carvajal placed in the top six of all four individual events and finished fourth in the all-around with a 33.525.
"I love working as a team, so it's been really weird this year not having a team score," Carvajal said. "But you just do the best you can for yourself, and it makes you work harder because there's no one else there to pick up the slack."
Next up for the Firebirds and Lions is the Olathe East Invitational at 6 p.m. Wednesday.