HILLIARD — A smashing debut and a storybook ending made for a memorable day at the state gymnastics meet.
Brunswick freshman Jordyn Thomas finished sixth in the all-around and placed in the top 10 in four events Saturday, while Buckeye senior Sammy Theis earned All-Ohio honors on the balance beam in her initial appearance at Hilliard Bradley.
Thomas became the first Medina County gymnast to medal in the all-around since Cloverleaf’s Maddie Brandt in 2014 and just the fourth local athlete to do so in the past decade.
The top six placers in each event are awarded medals and the top 10 receive All-Ohio recognition, illustrating that Thomas had the most successful day by a member of the Blue Devils in more than two decades.
“Standing on the podium for the all-around, looking around at the (capacity) crowd and seeing the other gymnasts on the floor was like nothing I’ve ever done before,” she said. “It was amazing and something I’ll never forget.”
Thomas’ all-around score of 36.575 was a half-point higher than she posted one week earlier at the West Geauga District. She began the day with an 8.95 on the uneven parallel bars and a 9.15 on the balance beam, eventually placing 10th in both.
While most athletes would be pleased with those scores, Thomas was not.
“Jordyn was really battling on those events even though she was struggling a little bit, which I thought was a great sign,” Brunswick coach Jacqueline Krist said. “She found a way to pull through and do well enough to keep her in the mix in the all-around.”
When the second half of the meet began, Thomas came out firing on all cylinders. She captivated the judges with a 9.25 in the floor exercise that earned her a third 10th-place showing, then completed the all-around with a terrific vault that received a 9.225.
The latter score allowed her to edge North Royalton’s Mya Costello (36.525) and Thornville Sheridan’s Madison Snider (36.45) for the sixth and final podium position in the A-A.
“How the day is going determines what you’re going to do in the later events,” said Thomas, who has trained under Krist since she was in preschool. “On the floor, I really tried to show it off, which kept me in contention for a good spot in the all-around. After that, I knew I had to run hard to score high on the vault if I had any chance of a medal.
“(Krist) was so happy with the way everything worked out, and it meant a lot having her here with me.”
Theis had a cheering section of more than 20 friends and family members in attendance for the culmination of her four-year career. She promptly gave them an even bigger reason to celebrate.
On a day when myriad first-time qualifiers fell off the beam, Theis was remarkably poised and hit all of her skills. She even smiled at her coaches and both sets of judges while on the eight-feet long, four-inch wide apparatus, earning a 9.175 to tie for seventh place.
“I performed lots of routines all week, so I felt like my work was cut out for me and all I had to do was go out and do it,” a visibly pleased Theis said. “I did feel sad at some practices because this was my last meet in the orange and black, but I knew it was going to be at state — and it can’t get any better than that.”
Buckeye has long showcased its All-Ohio athletes with a permanent display in the school’s main lobby. As Bucks coach and former Buckeye multi-sport standout Kristin Seeley noted, Theis will be their first gymnast on the wall since Brenna Miller in 2006.
“She is ‘Solid Sammy’ — that’s what we kept telling her before she competed,” Seeley said as her voice wavered. “As long as she was herself, always solid all the time, she would be fine and do well. I am so, so happy for her.