North, East hope to contend for state gymnastics crown

If there’s one thing that both Columbus North and Columbus East can take away from last week’s Connersville Regional, it’s that they both still can improve going into Saturday’s Gymnastics State Finals.

The fifth-ranked Bull Dogs put up a season-high 112.175 in winning the regional. They may need to be in the 113 range to contend with No. 1 Chesterton and No. 2 Valparaiso for the title.

“We do have a lot of room to improve,” North co-coach Sandy Freshour said. “The girls came into practice (Monday), and they were really eager. Even the ones that had (personal records) were eager to find that extra tenth (of a point) or two to help our team total.”

Action begins at 1 p.m. Saturday at Ball State’s Worthen Arena. Opening ceremonies start at 12:30 p.m.

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North co-coach Bob Arthur agreed with Freshour, that the Bull Dogs have room to improve, especially with their third and fourth scores.

“Even though we had three no-fall beam routines, we had some execution errors there,” Arthur said. “Bars is our lowest-scoring event right now, and that is almost exclusively execution. We don’t have to add anything; we just need to clean up what we’re doing. We know we’re dangerous if we can just get everybody staying clean and hitting the routines.”

The Olympians finished second in the regional with a 111.325. They led North through the first three rotations but had a pair of falls on their final event, the beam, and had to count one.

East had beaten the Bull Dogs in a regular-season meet and in the East Sectional.

“Our warmup (at regional) was just atrocious,” East coach Nancy Kirshman said. “It’s the worst warmup we’ve ever had.”

The Olympians had to start on the floor at the regional, which is regarded as the most difficult rotation. At state, they will begin on the bars and finish on the vault.

“We like this rotation,” Kirshman said. “This will be a good rotation for us to start on bars. That will relax them a little bit to get started.”

North, meanwhile, will do an Olympic rotation, meaning it will start on the vault and finish on the floor. That’s the rotation the Bull Dogs had two years ago when they won the state title.

Chesterton and Valpo, which edged North by three-tenths of a point for last year’s title, figure to be the favorites going in.

“East is a very powerful force, too,” Arthur said. “I think they’re capable of doing it. I’d say that both of our teams are the underdogs right now, but the northern schools, typically in the judging, sometimes they only take a half-tenth (of a point on deductions), when our judges down here in the south might take a full tenth. You just don’t know until you have all the teams out there in front of the same judges because they’re all a little bit different.”

If you go

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

Admission: $10

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