Blue Jay gymnasts find out about All-State honors via social media

Mar. 26—JAMESTOWN — The news of Julia Skari's fifth All-State gymnastics team nomination came to her through the hallowed mediums of Facebook and Instagram.

"I was extremely happy," said Skari, a junior for the Jamestown High School gymnastics team. "Even though I have been named All-State before, each time I still get that excitement.

"Everyone deserves to be on the All-State team if you go to State but unfortunately, they only pick a few people," she said. "It is the cumulative effort of how you do throughout the season and the head coaches' choices so usually the top gymnasts are awarded the all-state honor. If I was a coach I would choose all my teammates because they all rock."

While not all of Skari's teammates got their names on the All-State list — two of her teammates did.

Allysah Larson and Sutton Van Gilder were named to the 2024 Second-Team All-State Team last week. This year marked the Jays' fifth consecutive season where at least three gymnasts were named to the all-star roster.

"Allysah is a hard worker, and truly tried her best throughout this season and the all-state award was well deserved," Skari said. "Sutton worked really hard over the summer to improve for this season and all the long hard hours have paid off. They both have earned and deserved this honor."

Van Gilder said being named to the all-state team wasn't a goal of hers until after she had been named to the All-WDA team.

"I was very surprised because last year I had barely even qualified for State," Van Gilder said of her reaction when she heard the news. "I definitely had hoped that at some point in my five years of being on the team, I would get named to it."

While the 2024 state meet was Van Gilder's best meet of the season score-wise, the sophomore had been making strides all season. At the Blue Jays' dual against Dickinson on Feb. 10, Van Gilder scored a 35.85 in the all-around which she said was a catalyst for her scores being in the high 34s and low 35s the last two weeks of the season.

"This season was definitely the best season I had yet," Van Gilder said. "I went from barely being top 40 last year to placing in every event. I have never been named to the All-State team before so it's really an honor to be nominated to it. This season really did surpass my expectations."

Having teammates like Skari and Larson undoubtedly helped motivate Van Gilder's progression.

At the West Region Meet, Skari scored a 9.600 on vault, an 8.150 on beam and a 9.725 on floor to earn an all-around score of 37.075. Skari has been one of the Jays' top gymnasts ever since she came on the scene as a seventh grader in 2019.

In the past five seasons, Skari has qualified for State in the all-around and all four events five times. She has also been named an all-stater every year since 2019.

"Julia has to be one of the most hardworking people I know," Van Gilder said. "She tries new things just so that she can help our team and over the summer. She also worked very hard at making many improvements by taking corrections."

Through her junior year campaign, Skari notched seven top 3 and nine top 8 performances in the all-around. The junior's average of 37.767 ranked her fourth in the state. Dickinson's Elizabeth Karsky (38.542) Aspen Roadarmel (38.050) and Reygan Strommen (37.942) held the top 3 averages.

This winter, Skari produced the top averages in the state on both beam and floor averaging 9.683 and 9.733, respectively. She scored her highest beam score ever — a 9.700 — on Jan. 5 at one of Jamestown's home meets.

"I tried my very best this season, I did it for the team and for myself," Skari said. "I think my individual performances throughout the year, met my goals as I set the bar high for myself."

Skari toyed with the idea of continuing to compete at the USA Gymnastics level but a stress fracture plagued her progress and the junior said she was encouraged by her doctors to choose between competing in gymnastics or track and field.

While the junior decided to move on to track for the spring, she'll likely be back in the gym after the state meet preparing for one final go-around with the Jays.

"I have loved this sport since I was very little," Skari said. "I have a hard time believing my career is coming to an end."

Larson's gymnastics career officially came to an end last month.

"There is so much I will miss about gymnastics," Larson said. "The sport in general holds such a special place in my heart, but I am definitely going to miss my teammates the most."

This season marked the senior's first time being named to the All-State roster. Larson won the WDA title on floor, scoring a 9.750.

"Allysah really earned this honor because over the summer she had foot surgery and that can be somewhat difficult coming back to a sport after having surgery done," Van Gilder said. "She works incredibly hard at practice and not only does she push herself but she also pushes everyone else on the team to do amazing."

At State, the senior notched her career-high bar score at 8.767 and placed in three of the four events and the all-around.

"This year was a very productive year for our team and we all put in a lot of great efforts," Larson said. "I felt like an All-State athlete at WDA during my floor routine. I earned the best score of my entire career and tied for first place which was really big for me. I put a lot of hard work into that routine this year and I was so proud of myself to see that it had finally paid off."