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January 9, 2014 at 8:19 PM

Roosevelt hosts second Beauty and the Beast Meet

BY TERRY WOOD

Special to The Seattle Times

The Beauty and the Beast Meet is back for round two at Roosevelt High School.

Friday at 7:30 p.m., Roosevelt will host its second annual B&B event, a unique combo plate of high school gymnastics and wrestling, when two Newport squads join the Roughriders for a night of takedowns and backflips.

The brainchild of Roosevelt gymnastics coach Bettie Kibala and other Roosevelt coaches and athletic administrators, the Beauty and the Beast Meet aims to give two second-tier prep sports a larger stage than they might achieve on their own, broadening the appreciation for two sports among fans who ordinarily show up to watch just one.

The two-sport meet concept, Kibala points out, was actually launched at Boise State 11 years ago. “A student needed to come up with sports promotion project that would help highlight secondary sports,” she said. “Boise State has done it every year since. When we approached him about bringing it to the high school level he said, ‘Go for it.’ ”

Why does it work? “Part of the appeal is combining two of the oldest sports in the same room,” said Kibala, who invited teams from Woodinville to take part in last year’s inaugural meet. “You have the grace and artistry of a gymnast on the beam or floor competing right next to the brute strength of two sparring wrestlers.”

Last year’s event drew a big crowd and created a fun buzz in the stnads, Kibala says. It was such a hit that this year the meet has been expanded to include a junior varsity session.

Was either sport a clear crowd favorite last year? “I think it was equal,” Kibala said. “Each team got to feel amazing crowd support. Some of the wrestlers and parents had never been to a gymnastics meet. Many of the team members from both sports had not competed in front of a crowd that big.

“Two weeks after the event last year a senior wrestler found me in the hallway and said thank you and said he really appreciated having that to remember,” she said.

The two sports share the same venue, the Tacoma Dome, for their state championship meets in February, though gymnasts compete in a separate space, the Exhibition Hall. No actual interaction occurs.

It does at the Beauty and the Beast Meet, though. “One of the best memories when the gymnasts finished and there were still two more wrestling matches,” Kibala recalled. “The gymnasts surrounded the wrestling mat and cheered for the wrestlers.”

The meet will feature two top prep gymnasts. Newport senior Candace Ho placed second in all-around at last year’s 4A state meet. She is also the 2013 state champion on beam and 2012 floor co-champion. Kibala’s daughter Rose is a senior captain at Roosevelt who last year placed fourth on floor at state.

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