Chesterton Tribune

Chesterton Gymnasts beam up to Duneland Conference title

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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, 110.425-109.975-109.55.

"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 floor.

"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 practice."

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 crazy."

Chesterton hopes to ride the wave into the tournament series as it hosts the sectional Saturday.

"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."

Duneland Athletic Conference Meet


Team Results

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.

Individual Results

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.


Posted 2/28/2011