Chesterton Tribune

 

 

CHS Gymnasts win 3rd straight IHSAA State Title

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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 practice.”

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.”

Chesterton’s top 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.”

Matthys also 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 MVP.”

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 building.

That decision prompted a different approach for Matthys, who did something at the state meet that she’d never done before

“Usually, when 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.”

The Chesterton 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 athletes.

“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 UNIVERSITY

Team Results

1. Chesterton 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.

Individual Results

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.

 

Posted 3/16/2020

 
 
 
 

 

 

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