Nine months have passed since Columbus North shocked the state gymnastics community by upending two-time defending champion Valparaiso and winning its first state title since 1974.

The Bull Dogs not only won, they were nearly perfect. Each of the top three gymnasts had clean routines on all four events, and North set a state-meet record with 114.85 points.

This year, the target will be squarely on the backs of the Bull Dogs. With two former individual state champions returning, North will look to make a run at another title.

“We’re not really a team that focuses on winning,” senior Ashley Holliday said. “We’re a team that goes out and tries to do our best and have a good time and just see what happens.”

Holliday won the state title on the bars as a sophomore. Last year Claire Thompson won the bars and beam on her way to capturing the state all-around championship.

Also last year, Holliday tied for second on the vault and third on the floor and finished fifth in the all-around. She said since the state meet, the team has been working to keep their skills so they can come back at the beginning of the season and be where they were before.

“We had open gyms so we can work on the skills because the worst thing is to lose your skills and have to relearn them throughout the season,” said Thompson, who is now a junior.

North did lose state floor and all-around runner-up Katrina May, who is now pole vaulting for the Purdue track and field team. But along with Thompson and Holiday, they return two other girls who competed at state in junior Kaitlyn Calandro and sophomore Tova Edwards.

Co-coaches Sandy Freshour and Bob Arthur also will look to four freshman, led by Sami Heathcote. Ashley Niebrugge, Elaine Davis and Grace Ellis also came out of the club program at Victory Gymnastics Academy.

Arthur said the team isn’t quite at the level it was at the beginning of last season, but could be by the time it opens the season Thursday at home against Bloomington North.

“We had the perfect storm last year up at state where everybody hit their routine on the same day,” Arthur said. “Is the talent going to be there? Absolutely. Can we pull that off again where everybody hits as well? I don’t know. We’ll see.”

If you go

The 2017 Columbus North gymnastics schedule:

Thursday;Bloomington North;7 p.m.

Jan. 9;Columbus East;7 p.m.

Jan. 19;New Palestine;6 p.m.

Jan. 26;at Bloomington South;6:30 p.m.

Jan. 31;at Seymour

Feb. 7;Owen Valley;7 p.m.

Feb. 11;at Connersville Invitational;11 a.m.

Feb. 14;at Roncalli;6:30 p.m.

Feb. 18;Conference Indiana at Bloomington South;noon

Author photo
Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at tschultz@therepublic.com or 812-379-5628.