Defending state uneven parallel bars champion Adi Minor found it fascinating that the city of Columbus has produced state champions in the event for three consecutive years.
Minor is the latest in a string of Columbus girls to win state titles on the bars. The Columbus East senior will try to repeat her title on Saturday at Ball State’s Worthen Arena.
“That’s super cool,” Minor said. “I didn’t know that. That would be super cool for Columbus to have state champions on the bars for four years in a row.”
They have an excellent chance. Minor, with a 9.9 earlier this season, has the state’s best bars score.
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Minor, the seventh female athlete overall from Columbus to win a bars title, was co-champion last season with a 9.65.
“Bars was not my strong event all throughout gymnastics,” Minor said. “Vault has been my go-to. These past two years, I’ve just gotten pretty good at swinging on bars and just keeping consistent.”
Her best competition Saturday could come from her close friend and former club teammate, Claire Thompson. The Columbus North senior won the bars title two years ago with a 9.7, when she also won the beam and all-around championship to lead the Bull Dogs to the team title.
Thompson has the state’s second-best bars score this year, a 9.75.
“I think it’s awesome, especially since it’s been both schools (winning bars titles),” Thompson said. “It says a lot for the talent at both schools.”
In 2015, North’s Ashley Holliday won the bars title as a sophomore with a 9.6.
Thompson said the trio has had a lot of the same club coaches growing up, including Jody Tompkins at Jody’s Gymnastic Zone and Gary Stam at Victory Gymnastics Academy, so a lot of their technique was learned from them.
“I think definitely the kids coming through the club program and getting some of those basic skills underneath their belt has been a real plus for us,” North co-coach Bob Arthur said. “We’ve been able to add a few things when they get here, and we’ve had some good talent and girls that are driven. So getting those bars championships, I’d love to say it was due to the coaching, but it was more the desire of the gymnasts.”
Arthur noted that not only do gymnasts have to do the skills that are required on the bars, they have to do them very well. Gymnasts go into the event with a 9.2 start value and can earn up to eight-tenths of a point in bonuses prior to deductions.
North co-coach Sandy Freshour agreed with Arthur that the dedication and the determination of the athletes have been a factor in the success.
“I don’t necessarily think it’s something in the water,” Freshour said. “We’ve just had some really talented, really driven competitors who are very, very purposed in maxing their abilities and their performances.”
Regardless of how they perform at state, the meet will be the final competitive one for Thompson and Minor, two of the best gymnasts ever to come out of the tradition-rich North and East programs. Thompson is going to Indiana University to study nursing.
Minor, who has been doing gymnastics since age 2 and competing since age 6, is headed to DePauw to study kinesiology.
“(Gymnastics) has been my life for the last 16 years,” Minor said. “It’s going to be really sad. It’s very bittersweet. It’s the end of my career. But I’m really excited for it, and I’m just hoping that I can go out with a bang and do my very best. That’s all I can ask for — to do my very best and for my team to do their very best. If both of those things happen, then I couldn’t be more happy with the ending.”
State bars champions from Columbus:
*-won all-around title that year
**-tied for first on bars
Gymnastics State Finals
When: 1 p.m. Saturday (opening ceremonies start at 12:30 p.m.
Where: Worthen Arena, 1699 W. Bethel Ave., Muncie
Teams: Columbus East, Columbus North, Chesterton, Fort Wayne Carroll, Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger, Homestead, Portage, Seymour, Valparaiso