Chesterton Tribune

State champs: CHS gymnasts greeted to heroes' welcome

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INDIANAPOLIS -- For the second time in three years, Chesterton is the gymnastics capital of Indiana.

Coach Maria Bachuchin’s Trogems capped off a remarkable season Saturday afternoon in bringing back to Chesterton its third IHSAA state championship.

The team was greeted Saturday night around 10 p.m. with a police escort from the Toll Road and went through town with the trophy in hand amidst cheers and celebration.

As they entered the CHS gymnasium, Queen’s hit “We are the Champions” greeted the winners.

Chesterton’s other championships came in 1993 and 2000.

It really has been a storybook season for this team. Competing in the toughest conference, sectional and regional in the state, the Trogems met and defeated all challengers and put an exclamation point on an outstanding season.

The championship is even more satisfying when you consider Chesterton has to start on floor, then vault, uneven bars and beam.

“If you can win doing beam last, that shows you’ve got the mental toughness that you need and you deserve to win,” Bachuchin said. “And we showed it. I’m so proud of these girls because it is not an easy thing to do. Friend and foe Valparaiso has done (this rotation) three weeks in a row, and I said that they had to buck up and do it and so do we.”

The door to clinching the championship came early when Dwenger and Merrillville completed vault.

“I knew where we stood with them because they were following us,” Bachuchin said. “I kind of felt we had a good shot after bars. We hit bars and that gave us a nice cushion.”

Heading into the final rotation, the Trogems held a little more than a one-point lead over Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger. The beam came down to Chesterton’s ability to execute to win.

And with all the events done, the eyes of over 1,000 people were fixed on the Trogems.

“The kids were prepared for that and that is how we practiced,” Bachuchin said.

Jenny Janosky and Jessica Gravel scored 8.85 and 8.60, respectively on their turns. And when Leslie West nailed her beam, the trophy was pretty much Chesterton’s.

“(Beam coach Kathy Wilburn) made a call early in the week and we did some things differently in practice,” Bachuchin said. “And I think that helped us. I want to give a lot of credit to Kathy Wilburn. She really came through. She’s awesome. She can read those kids like a book. She knew exactly what to do with them and we just followed her plan.

“They were confident. We didn’t need three 9.5’s to win it. We didn’t tell them what they needed to win. We told them to do their best.”

Following Leslie’s showing, Lauren West followed with a 9.625 for a little icing on the cake.

“Leslie has had difficulty with her aerials,” Bachuchin said. “And today Kathy said she’s made more than she’s missed and she’s going to make it. And she did. They’ve been consistent all year and when we got to the state meet, they did more of the same.”

It was fitting that the Marvin Gaye, Tammy Terell classic “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” was playing over the loudspeakers in the Perry Meridian gym, as the Trogems were finishing on beam. A fitting conclusion for a team that a year ago finished fourth at the state meet behind Bishop Dwenger.

But through a year of hard work and dedication, this group reigns supreme.

“That is why this was so nerve wracking for me because we were suppose to win this,” Bachuchin said. “It was ours to lose and winning it really helped us. That’s the song that that our kids lip sing all the time. And as soon as it came on and Lauren was on beam, all the kids (knew) this was a good sign. It’s the truth. That’s kind of like our theme song.”

It may be too early to start thinking about 2003, but barring injury or other factors, one thing is for certain. With everyone but senior Rachel Brown coming back, Chesterton will begin next year as the favorite to once again win another state title.


Posted 3/18/2002