Heading into the regional gymnastics meet earlier this month, Columbus North’s Claire Thompson wasn’t ranked higher than 10th statewide in the all-around or any individual event — so the idea of winning a state all-around championship never really entered her mind.

Even after she nailed all four of her routines at the state meet March 12, scoring 9.5 or better on each, the sophomore never considered the possibility.

“My teammates had told me, ‘Claire, I think you might have won,’” Thompson recalled. “I was like, ‘No way; there’s no way I did.’ And when they called second place, I was like, ‘Oh, wow … I’m still here.’”

By saving her best for last, Thompson not only won the state all-around with a score of 38.4, but she also placed first on the uneven bars and the balance beam, helping to lead the Bull Dogs to a state-record team score and their first team championship since 1974.

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Now — in a season that saw four Columbus gymnasts finish among the state’s top six in the all-around — she’s also The Republic’s Gymnast of the Year.

Thompson was occasionally the forgotten one on a North team that included last year’s state uneven bars champion, Ashley Holliday, and a talented senior in Katrina May, who went into the state meet with the team’s top all-around score.

All three scored all-around victories for the Bull Dogs during the season, and Thompson said that having talented teammates helped each one maximize her potential.

“When we see one person hit a routine, then we want to hit a routine,” she explained. “I feel like it’s just like a ripple effect.”

Thompson was able to take advantage of that ripple at the best possible time. Her scores on the bars (9.7), beam (9.675) and floor (9.5) were all season bests, and her vault score (9.525) was just one-tenth of a point off from the season high she posted at the Columbus East Regional.

It’s hard to imagine a day going much better — but that doesn’t mean Thompson won’t try. Now that the season is over, she’ll spend the summer training (but not competing) with her club team, adding some new skills to her repertoire and “cleaning everything up.”

Not that there was much left to improve upon from her final performance.

“It was crazy,” Thompson said. “I knew that I had a chance at winning maybe two of the events, but I never even thought that I was going to be able to win all-around and the amount of events that I did. It still just seems unreal.”

All-Area Team

Ashley Holliday, Columbus North

The 2015 state uneven bars champion nearly earned another individual crown this year, finishing second in the vault. Holliday was also fourth in floor exercise and fifth in the all-around.

Katrina May, Columbus North

May won the Mental Attitude Award and placed second in the all-around at the state meet. She also finished second on floor exercise and third on the balance beam.

Adi Minor, Columbus East

The sophomore, who had the highest all-around score in Indiana this year (38.75), tied for sixth in the all-around at the state meet and placed fifth in the vault.

Claire Thompson, Columbus North

Thompson saved her best for last, finishing first in the all-around, balance beam and uneven bars while leading the Bull Dogs to a state championship.

Honorable mention

Columbus East: Seena Greiwe, Abby Lewis, Andrea Stattenfield

By the numbers

Claire Thompson’s scores and finishes at the state championship meet:

All-around: 38.4 (first place)

Vault: 9.525 (10th place)

Uneven bars: 9.7 (first place)

Balance beam: 9.675 (first place)

Floor exercise: 9.5 (fifth place)

Columbus North’s team score of 114.85 established a new state record, shattering the old state meet mark of 114.225 set by Valparaiso in 2008 as well as North’s previous school record of 114.2.

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Ryan O'Leary is sports editor for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at roleary@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2715.