Bull Dogs defend Conference Indiana title

INDIANAPOLIS —The Columbus North gymnasts had a slow start but a big finish Tuesday night in the Conference Indiana meet.

While the outcome was never in doubt, the fourth-ranked Bull Dogs got progressively better as the meet went on. They finished with a 110.4 to easily defend their conference championship.

“This close to sectional, we should be more consistent than we were,” North co-coach Sandy Freshour said. “We’re struggling to just be consistent, and we’re going to have to work a little harder on that if we’re going to do well at sectional.”

Bloomington North finished a distant second Tuesday with a 98.775. Franklin Central took third with a 95.4, and Bloomington South was fourth with a 94.475.

The Bull Dogs started on the beam, and four of the five girls had falls. But then all five gymnasts scored in the 9s on the floor, and North continued with solid vault and bars performances.

“Beam was a little bit of a shaky start for all of us, but from there, we kind of went up,” Heathcote said.

Heathcote won the beam (9.225) and floor (9.45) before finishing second on the vault (9.375) and bars (9.375) to take second in the all-around competition with a 37.425.

Claire Thompson overcame a slow start to overtake Heathcote on the final event to win the all-around with a 37.575. Thompson won the vault (9.5) and bars (9.725) and took second on the beam (9.1) and third on the floor (9.25).

“Some of us need to be more confident in our routines,” Thompson said. “We have the talent and everything. We just need to be more confident when we’re competing.”

Tova Edwards finished third in the all-around with a career-best 34.625. Edwards was second on the floor (9.3), third on the vault (9.1) and fourth on the bars (8.35).

“I haven’t gotten that high before, so it was good,” Edwards said. “I think it was just how confident I was feeling in my skills.”

Alayne Davis finished third on the bars (8.575), fourth on the vault (8.85) and fifth on the floor (9.15).

Ashley Niebrugge took fifth on the beam (8.425) and sixth on the floor (9.1). Kaitlyn Calandro was sixth on the beam (8.3).

“Tova had a good meet tonight,” North co-coach Bob Arthur said. “Claire had a couple hiccups, but if your top kid has an off night, and you’re still scoring 110 as a team, the other girls are pulling their share and filling in the gap. It’s ‘Next man up.’”

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