Aiko Hirai performs her giants on bars during the 1A/2A/3A gymnastics state meet on Feb. 20 at Sammamish High School. Hirai won bars and vault during the event finals on Feb. 21. Benjamin Olson/staff photo

Aiko Hirai performs her giants on bars during the 1A/2A/3A gymnastics state meet on Feb. 20 at Sammamish High School. Hirai won bars and vault during the event finals on Feb. 21. Benjamin Olson/staff photo

Sammamish’s Hirai shines during event finals

Aiko Hirai won vault and bars at the state gymnastics meet on Feb. 21.

Sammamish gymnast Aiko Hirai finished first on bars (9.500) and vault (9.725) during the event finals at the 1A/2A/3A gymnastics state meet on Feb. 21 at Sammamish High School.

The freshman qualified for the two events after finishing in the top 16 during individual qualifying. In her first time competing at state, Hirai said the second day of competition was less intimidating than the individual qualifiers and the team competition on Feb. 20.

“I was trying to calm down and say, ‘Hey, you already competed yesterday and that was more important, so today, just have fun,’” Hirai said.

On the first day, Hirai tied for seventh on vault (9.300), but she saved her best for the event finals. Hirai said she doesn’t overthink vaulting too much.

“I just start by looking at my number and just saying, ‘You got this and believe in yourself,’ and then I just run,” Hirai said. “I don’t really think about anything, I just try to spot the landing afterwards, I don’t really think at all, I just do it.”

Hirai finished first on bars during both days of the competition. She said that bars is all about patience.

In her first year of high school gymnastics, Hirai said it’s been so much fun to be part of a team that supports one another. In the past competing in the JO (Junior Olympic) program, Hirai said it was more individual.

“(High school gymnastics) is so fun and so much easier than JO,” Hirai said. “I feel less stressed and it’s really fun.”

The Sammamish gymnastics team finished second during the team competition on Feb. 20, scoring a 180.950. This was the first time this season the Totems have eclipsed a team score of 180.

In the all-around competition, Hirai finished fifth with a 37.325 and teammate Sydney Griswold was 10th with a 37.100.


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Aiko Hirai runs down the vault runway before her vault during the event finals at the state gymnastics meet on Feb. 21 at Sammamish High School. Benjamin Olson/staff photo

Aiko Hirai runs down the vault runway before her vault during the event finals at the state gymnastics meet on Feb. 21 at Sammamish High School. Benjamin Olson/staff photo