Brighton and Howell gymnasts will have their last big competition prior to the start of the state tournament at Saturday’s KLAA meet at Walled Lake Central High School.
The Bulldogs went undefeated in division meets on its way to Lakes championship, while Howell finished second. But it’s the Highlanders who have come on strong at the end of the season.
Both squads will have to contend with Kensington champion Canton and runner-up Livonia Blue for the league championship.
“Howell has been the deeper team the last couple of weeks,” said Nancy Gregory, who coaches both Howell and Brighton. “I’m not sure — it’s hard to predict how things will go in gymnastics. You have to stay on the beam, or your beam scores will be low. Assuming everyone stays with what they need to do, both should do pretty well.”
Competition for the 13-team meet will begin around 11:30 a.m. and should run until about 8 p.m. with an awards ceremony. In addition to meet awards, eligible gymnasts with the highest averages during league duals also will be honored.
Gymnasts also will be honoring U.S. armed forces with a synchronized, 21-back tuck salute and by making donations to care packages that will be sent to personnel overseas.
Lacking depth, Brighton will need to rely on its top-end gymnasts — junior Margo Mekjian and seniors Katy Raby and Annamarie Martini — to score well. Only the top four scorers contribute to a team’s overall score.
“If Brighton hits its routines, they’ll be very competitive, too,” Gregory said. “They just don’t have the depth. They have to rely on four or five girls, even though there are 10 on a team. They just don’t have as many high-scoring gymnasts. … They all have to hit their routines and have their work cut out for them.”
The Highlanders, who placed third at a very competitive 18-team Canton Invitational, are led by senior Marisa DeCamp, junior Kirsten Phifer and sophomores Alyssa Walker and Kacy Wolfram.
“For Howell, it depends on DeCamp, Phifer and Alyssa Walker,” Gregory said. “And on the vault, almost nobody can beat Kacy Wolfram.”
Brighton, Howell and Fowlerville will compete together at the same regional meet at Haslett on March 7.
■WHAT: KLAA Championships
■WHO: Brighton and Howell among 13 teams in the field
■WHEN: 11:30 a.m. Saturday
■WHERE: Walled Lake Central High School