Makayla Waggoner trotted up to the podium, climbed on top of its highest box and smiled as an official strung a medal hanging from a blue ribbon around her neck.
One day made all the difference.
The Olympia High junior won the individual title in the vault Saturday at the Class 4A gymnastics state championships at the Tacoma Dome. That came one day after Waggoner took sixth place in the 4A all-around competition — a finish she wasn’t impressed with.
“I’m a lot happier today than yesterday,” she said.
With good reason — the state title was Waggoner’s first.
She posted a score of 9.850 to secure the win, edging out Woodinville’s Alli McManus by 0.075 points.
“It’s really exciting. I’m really proud of myself,” she said. “It feels good to win.”
The vault was the only event in which Waggoner qualified for the finals. She took third on Friday to advance.
She was Olympia’s only representative in the individual finals. The Bears took fourth place in the team competition on Friday after qualifying for the first time since 1999.
“I told myself I was going to have a good attitude about it going into it,” Waggoner said. “I knew it was going to be more of a stress-free meet, because I’m usually more consistent on vault than I am in my other events.”
Waggoner was cool and confident as she charged toward the springboard, did a round-off onto the table and completed a layout flip with both feet planted on the mat.
“I ran hard and was really aggressive and tried to stick the landing,” she said.
It was as simple as that.
Waggoner, a junior, expects to make a return appearance next season — and in more than one event.
“Next year, hopefully I will be more consistent on the other events like I am with vault, and I’ll come out and hit four-for-four, and hopefully make it into the finals with all four events,” she said.