North defends crown, East also state-bound

Friday night’s regional meet didn’t come without its hiccups, but the Columbus North gymnasts were still good enough to repeat as regional champions.

The second-ranked Bull Dogs came through with a 111.05 to edge Bloomington South by three-tenths of a point. Host Columbus East claimed the third-and-final qualifying spot to the March 11 state finals with a 108.925.

“This was a squeak-through.” North co-coach Sandy Freshour said. “We had great practice (Friday), and within the coaching staff, we thought the kids would be a lot more confident. We didn’t perform our best. It’s nice when we can still win not performing our best because I think that inspires the kids that we can do a good job.”

Junior Claire Thompson, the defending state champion on the bars, beam and all-around competition, aggravated a back injury when she landed on it on her second vault attempt. Her first vault was good enough to allow her to finish second in the event with a 9.625.

Thompson also won the bars (9.675) and beam (9.725) on her way to winning the all-around with a 38.225.

“I feel a lot better than I did at sectional,” Thompson said. “I can fix a few things. On floor, I had a little mess-up, but other than that, I’m pretty happy.”

North senior Ashley Holliday, who won the all-around at the sectional, battled back after falling twice on the floor, which was the Bull Dogs’ first event.

Holliday won the vault (9.75) and finished second on the bars (9.575) and beam (9.4). She took second in the all-around with a 37.075.

“We had a lot of competition tonight, and we knew coming in that we needed to really well and I think the pressure kind of got to us,” Holliday said. “It definitely got to me on floor, and I just made a big mistake that I know I’m going to have to fix.”

Freshman Sami Heathcote helped make up for Holliday’s slips on the floor by finishing sixth on that event with a 9.45, the Bull Dogs’ top floor score.

Meanwhile, East senior Seena Greiwe finished second on the floor (9.7) and fourth in the all-around with a personal-best 36.475.

“I think it’s awesome that we were able to go out there and do as well as we did and make it to state,” Greiwe said. “I just think we’re ready for state, and we’re going to work hard this week because we have a pretty good shot at doing pretty well at state.”

For the second week in a row, standout junior Adi Minor competed only on the bars. She finished third on that event with a 9.575.

East coach Nancy Kirshman was pleased with the way her other gymnasts rallied in Minor’s absence.

“We pulled together,” Kirshman said. “Abby Lewis had a nice meet for us tonight. Taylor was a little off on beam, but otherwise, she had a good meet and the two Files sisters and Lauren Martinez came in where they were supposed to replacing Adi. Hopefully, we’ll get Adi back into some more events by next week.”

New Palestine finished fourth as a team with a 104.875. Richmond took fifth with a 99.575, and Connersville was sixth with a 97.5.

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