MUNCIE — When Claire Thompson got through her balance beam routine without any hiccups, the Columbus North gymnastics team knew it was in the clear.
The lead that the Bull Dogs had built up through the first two rotations was safe after the third, and about the only suspense going into their turn on the floor exercise was whether or not the school and state team scoring records (114.2 and 114.225 points, respectively) would be broken.
North shattered both, finishing the day with a total of 114.85 to easily outdistance two-time defending champ Valparaiso and claim its first state gymnastics championship since winning the first two titles in 1973 and 1974.
“I actually didn’t know what the state record was coming in,” North senior Katrina May said. “We’ve been shooting for the school record, which is 114.2, all year. I had no idea we could just blow it out of the water like that. It was awesome.”
Columbus East finished in sixth place with 108.95 points.
The Bull Dogs were in front from the very beginning of the afternoon, totaling 28.925 points on the vault to build a sizable early cushion. Junior Ashley Holliday’s score of 9.775 on the event wound up placing second on the day, earning the 2015 uneven bars champion a runner-up tie with Owen Valley’s Anna Watkin.
On the uneven bars, North rode a first-place effort (9.7) from Thompson to a 28.725 total, extending its lead to .85 points over Fort Wayne Dwenger and more than a point over Valparaiso after the second rotation.
Getting through the third rotation, the balance beam, without a major slip-up was about the only big hurdle left to clear, and the Bull Dogs did so with ease, setting the stage for a fourth-rotation victory lap on the floor.
“It felt good to have beam out of the way,” North co-coach Bob Arthur said. “You don’t want to take anything for granted until you’ve got that out of the way.”
The Bull Dogs nearly pulled off a clean sweep of the major individual hardware as well. Thompson won the all-around title with a score of 38.4 and also claimed first place on the uneven bars and beam. May was also second on the floor exercise.
May then put the cherry on top of a sweet day for the Bull Dogs by earning the IHSAA’s Mental Attitude Award. May is the second North athlete this season to claim the honor, joining girls basketball winner Paige Littrell.
“I cannot think of a better way to end 14 years with these amazing people,” May said after the meet. “It’s been a great ride.”