There was one event
left for Chesterton, one last chance to clinch the program’s third
consecutive state championship.
And, as senior
Sophie Hunzelman pointed out, it was the Trojans’ strongest event.
“Floor has been our
best event as a team,” she said. “We just try and do what we usually do at
Chesterton made it
look routine on floor, with all four gymnasts scoring over 9.4 in that event
to provide the exclamation points in the Trojans’ state championship
performance at Ball State’s Worthen Arena on Saturday. Chesterton finished
with 112.250 team points, topping runner-up Valparaiso’s 111.550.
“It wasn’t a
perfect meet,” Chesterton coach Dawn Matthys said. “We had a few hiccups,
but the girls rallied. They picked each other up, went out on floor in their
last event and they were amazing. I’m really proud of them.”
Part of that
preparation for floor involved the usual pre-event huddle that happened in
the hallways away from competition. And, according to senior Alyssa Donovan,
that’s where the Trojans found their resiliency.
“Our team rallies,”
Donovan said. “We went in the back and were screaming and cheering É that
usually gets us pumped up.”
Donovan opened with
a 9.4 score on floor, followed by a 9.45 from sophomore Caitlyn Cook. Junior
Mia Pak then scored a 9.475 before Hunzelman capped the meet Ń and her
career Ń with a score of 9.525 that tied for third place.
Like the rest of
her teammates, Hunzelman had to shake off some earlier mistakes before
stepping to the floor.
“Our team score
wasn’t as high as it’s been in the past, but it felt good to end on that
routine,” Hunzelman said.
It was the opposite
of the regional meet, when Chesterton started on floor and rolled to the
team title one week prior. Matthys said she mentioned that performance to
her team after three events.
“All I did was
remind them of how they started last week and how they felt after the floors
scores went up at regionals,” Matthys said. “All they had to do was bring
that same energy and spirit to the floor to finish strong.”
individual performer was Pak, who took home four individual medals. Pak
placed sixth on floor, third on vault (9.75), third in the all-around
(38.025) and was the sole champion on bars (9.6) after splitting the honor
with Hunzelman and McCutcheon’s Crysta Dilley at the 2019 state meet.
Pak was just
pleased to be back in the all-around competition at the state meet. As a
freshman, Pak placed sixth in the all-around (37.6) at the 2018 state meet
but was limited to just two events in 2019 while dealing with a bulging disc
in her lower back.
“Coming back this
year, I really pushed myself to do all four events,” Pak said. “If you only
compete in two events, it’s extra pressure because you’re always worrying
about those two.”
noticed how difficult it was for the ultra-competitive Pak to be limited in
competition last season.
“Pulling her off
two events last year drove her crazy,” Matthys said. “She competed in the
all-around at every meet this season. She’s had a great year. She’s our
The competition was
just part of the story on Saturday, though. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic
has prompted postponements or cancellations of sports at every level, while
the state gymnastics meet was held but fans were not permitted inside the
prompted a different approach for Matthys, who did something at the state
meet that she’d never done before
we’re competing or when we practice, everyone’s cell phones go in a bag,”
she said. “But the girls were allowed to keep their phones (on Saturday). I
let them keep their phones so that, in between events, they could
communicate with their families.”
parents gathered at the home of junior Julia Turner and watched on a live
internet stream that was provided by the IHSAA. Members of the Chesterton
team who were not competing also documented the proceedings through various
live video apps, providing a direct link between the parents and the
“All of the video
went to the Turners (house) so that all the parents could cheer them on,”
Matthys said. “Even though they weren’t here, we still gave them moments of
hearing the cheers from their families.”
For the athletes,
having some connection between their parents at home helped bring some
normalcy to an abnormal day.
“It was a little
weird,” Donovan said. “We were all a little nervous before the meet. But it
ended up that, since we were so focused, we couldn’t tell as much. It was
still good to know that our parents were watching on TV.”
There was still
plenty of cheering inside the Worthen Arena, though. Whenever teams weren’t
competing, the gymnasts typically crowded around a nearby event, lending
their fandom during the routines of their opponents.
“At our team
meeting (before the meet), we encouraged all of the girls to realize that we
were the audience,” Matthys said. “If we weren’t competing, we wanted the
rest of the competitors to feel our support.”
IHSAA State Finals
AT BALL STATE
112.25; 2. Valparaiso, 111.55; 3. FW Bishop Dwenger, 110.05; 4. Lake
Central, 109.925; 5. Columbus North, 109.575; 6. Homestead, 109.00; 7.
Richmond, 107.725; 8. FW Carroll, 105.375; 9. New Castle, 101.475.
Vault Š 1. Haiven
Gipson (WL Harrison), 9.90; 2. Elizabeth Ruger (Richmond), 9.775; 3. Mia Pak
©, 9.75; 4. Erica Xayarath (FW Wayne), 9.725; 5. (tie) Makenna King (South
Central) and Gianna Zirille (Homestead), 9.675; 22. Caitlyn Cook ©, 9.30;
23. Belle Marchetti ©, 9.25; 28. Sophie Hunzelman ©, 9.10.
Bars Š 1. Mia Pak
©, 9.60; 2. Makenna King (South Central), 9.55; 3. (tie) Gianna Zirille
(Homestead), Julia Goodine (FW Carroll) and Emily Moore (Columbus North),
9.375; 6. Cloe Amanatidis (Lake Central), 9.30; 7. Sophie Hunzelman ©,
9.275; 10. Caitlyn Cook ©, 9.225; 20. Abby Winland ©, 8.80.
Beam Š 1. Catie
Smith (Northwestern), 9.625; 2. (tie) Emily Moore (Columbus North) and Emma
Doyle (FW Bishop Dwenger), 9.575; 4. (tie) Elizabeth Ruger (Richmond) and
Cloe Amanatidis (Lake Central), 9.55; 6. Megan Wagenblast (Valparaiso),
9.475; 13. Caitlyn Cook ©, 9.225; 14. Mia Pak ©, 9.20; 19. Sophie Hunzelman
©, 8.975; 31. Belle Marchetti ©, 8.60.
Floor Š 1.
Elizabeth Ruger (Richmond), 9.65; 2. Gianna Zirille (Homestead), 9.55; 3.
Sophie Hunzelman © and Briana Thomas (Merrillville), 9.525; 5. Makenna King
(South Central), 9.50; 6. Mia Pak ©, 9.475; 7. Caitlyn Cook ©, 9.45; 13.
Alyssa Donovan ©, 9.40.
All-Around Š 1.
Elizabeth Ruger (Richmond), 38.225; 2. Makenna King (South Central), 38.15;
3. Mia Pak ©, 39.025; 4. Fianna Zirille (Homestead), 38.00; 5. Emily Moore
(Columbus North), 37.875; 6. Emma Doyle (FW Bishop Dwenger), 37.60; 7.
Caitlyn Cook ©, 37.20; 11. Sophie Hunzelman ©, 36.875.