When Free State junior Kelcy Bowers walked into the Lawrence High gymnasium Wednesday, she wasn’t expecting much from herself.
When she left, she was in a daze like never before.
“I’m just kind of shocked this happened,” said Bowers, who won all but one event and ran away with the all-around individual title at Wednesday’s Lawrence Invitational. “To be honest, I didn’t think I was ready for this meet at all.”
That all changed quickly, Bowers said, thanks to seeing some familiar faces in the stands who motivated her to deliver. Despite spending most of the week working on more difficult skills for later in the season, Bowers pulled her old skills together enough to dominate.
She finished first in three of the four individual events and was second in the fourth. The lone gymnast capable of claiming she bested Bowers on Wednesday? Her teammate, Drue Davis, who, along with Aly Frydman, Lexi Gonzales, Jackie Soelter and Camille Dubos, helped the Firebirds claim the team title with ease.
“I don’t really look at my teammates as rivals,” Bowers said with a giggle. “I’m just happy when we all do well. It really helps our confidence, and it’s definitely motivating. After a meet like this, we usually can’t wait to get back to practice.”
That should make today’s sparring session one to remember. In addition to winning four titles — vault (8.7), bars (9.0), beam (8.6) and all-around (35.1) — Bowers threw down a nearly flawless bar routine and was her usual solid self in everything else.
“Bars was definitely her best,” Frydman said. “She just hit everything.”
Added FSHS coach Kathy Johnson: “Kelcy’s very consistent and clean with what she does, which always helps. Four points of your score is based on how you look when you’re performing your event.”
Bowers wasn’t the only Firebird to enjoy success Wednesday night. In addition to finishing first in the floor exercise (9.05), Davis was second in the beam (8.2) and sixth in the vault (8.4). Davis tied for sixth with Frydman and Dubos.
Frydman also took third on the floor (8.55), while Dubos tacked on a fourth in the bars (7.25). Soelter (fifth in floor, 8.2) and Gonzales (third in bars, 7.3) rounded out Free State’s ferocious night.
“I think this really helps our team spirit,” Frydman said. “Even the little meets are nice to win.”
Lawrence High, which was without senior Maria Carvajal, did not crack the top six in any of the events and finished fifth in the team standings.
Both teams will compete Saturday at the Shawnee Mission North Invitational.
“Saturday will be a really good test to see where we fit in with all of the teams,” Johnson said.