Practice makes perfect.
More specifically, perfect practice makes perfect.
Due diligence on the balance beam reaped the Trojans big rewards in
Saturday's Duneland Athletic Conference Meet at Valparaiso.
Chesterton posted the day's highest score on the event, a 28.425, in their
third rotation, and rode the clutch performance to the team title, edging
the three-time defending champion Vikings and Portage,
"We all knew we could do it," said freshman Brandi Tuzinski, who grew up
with many of the Valpo gymnasts. "We did it in practice and we showed it. I
really felt that I would stick it, but it's more that (beam) is a strong
event for the team."
Tuzinski won the event with a 9.55. Senior anchor Elizabeth Kozak followed
Tuzinski in the rotation and in the awards, tying for second at 9.525 and
Samantha Wilburn placed sixth, scoring 9.35.
"Our beams were real steady," coach Kathy Wilburn said. "We went up there in
a big meet and hit. I'm really proud of that. Brandi's been consistently
improving the entire season. She's added things and she's finally to the
point where she's polished them up. I see big things coming for her."
The Trojans went into the final rotation with a 0.15 edge over Valpo, but
trailed the Indians by 0.325. Portage, however, closed on uneven bars, the
lowest-scoring event, while the Vikings were on beam and Chesterton on
"I was told all I needed was a 9.3 and when I got higher, I knew we were in
a good spot," Kozik said. "It was just me and the beam. That's all that was
in my head. We had a great beam series. We just did what we do every day in
Valpo still had a chance to pull out the title, but all-around winner
Steffanie Long, who also took first on the other three events, fell on her
routine, a 0.5 deduction.
"First of all, hats off to Chesterton," said Vikings coach Lorie Cook, who
was minus standout Morgan Algozine with what is believed to be an ankle
injury. "They did a fantastic job on beam. They put the pressure on. We had
opportunities. We just fell a little short. One routine never makes or
breaks a meet, ever. We had 16 opportunities to go out and make it happen.
There were little things all over the place."
Cliche' as it sounds, it was truly a team victory for the Trojans, who
didn't have a single all-arounder.
"It was definitely all team," Kozak said. "We don't focus on one all-arounder.
We lost as a team and we win as a team. There's always somebody there to
pick you up if something happens. I'm so proud of everybody."
The Trojans had five girls medal. In addition to beam, Kozak shared third on
floor (9.425). Sister Emily picked up a fourth on vault (9.4) and fifth on
bars (8.85) to go with a tie for third on floor (9.425). Samantha Wilburn
split sixth on floor (9.25) as well as her beam finish. Alex O'Brien chipped
in a third on bars (9.05).
"We had really nice vaults," coach Wilburn said. "We had a few mistakes on
floor and bars that we can correct. If we can get back to clicking (on
those), we can do even bigger things. The whole day long, the focus was on
having fun. The crowd was real upbeat, cheering, and we pulled off the
positive vibes. We just kept focusing on ourselves and our routines. That's
all we could do. We can't control anything else We have kids who are
stronger in certain events, but if they're off on a given day, others are
there to pick them up. That contributed to our success."
For the elder Kozak, it's her first win over Valpo in her career.
"It's definitely surreal," she said. "I'm a senior and we hadn't beaten
Valpo in my four years, and it's finally happened. Coach Kathy came up to us
and said we haven't beaten Valpo in a meet in four years, until now. It was
Chesterton hopes to ride the wave into the tournament series as it hosts the
"There are awesome teams in our conference and it's fun to go head to head,"
Wilburn said. "It was a close meet all-around. Valpo and Portage were right
there. This is a really good boost going into the post-season, a shot of
confidence. I'm sure the girls will have a little more fire going into next
week and keep working hard."
1. Chesterton, 110.425; 2. Valparaiso, 109.975; 3. Portage, 109.55; 4.
LaPorte, 107.7; 5. Merrillville, 104.725; 6. Crown Point, 104.35; 7. Lake
Central, 97.25; 8. Michigan City, 95.1.
VAULT -- 1. Steffanie Long (V), 9.7; 2. Danielle Solis (P), 9.5; 3. Chandler
Hill (M), 9.45; 4. Emily Kozak ©, 9.4; 5. Mackenzie Barcelli (P), 9.3; 6.
(tie) Abaigale Light (LP) and Brandi Tuzinski ©, 9.25.
BARS -- 1. Steffanie Long (V), 9.55; 2. Mackenzie Barcelli (P), 9.4; 3. Alex
O'Brien ©, 9.05; 4. Elisha Krauth (LP), 9.0; 5. Emily Kozak ©, 8.875; 6.
Danielle Solis (P), 8.8.
BEAM -- 1. Brandi Tuzinski ©, 9.55; 2. (tie) Abaigale Light (LP) and
Elizabeth Kozak ©, 9.525; 4. Mackenzie Barcelli (P), 9.4; 5. Chandler Hill
(M), 9.375; 6. Samantha Wilburn ©, 9.35.
FLOOR -- 1. Steffanie Long (V), 9.525; 2. Mackenzie Barcelli (P), 9.5; 3.
(tie) Danielle Solis (P) and Elizabeth Kozak ©, 9.425; 5. Abagaile Light
(LP), 9.3; 6. (tie) Katelyn Cservernyak (CP) and Samantha Wilburn ©, 9.25.
ALL-AROUND -- 1. Steffanie Long (V), 37.9; 2. Mackenzie Barcelli (P), 37.6;
3. Danielle Solis (P), 36.975; 4. Abagaile Light (LP), 36.225; 5. Chandler
Hill (M), 35.85; 6. Madelyn Lashinis (LP), 35.7.