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Bull Dogs senior gymnast excels in classroom, competition

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Megan Heathcote performs on the balance beam for Columbus North High School. Columbus North won 108.775-103.85 over Owen Valley  in gymnastics Thursday February 26, 2014. (Photo by Joe Harpring)
Megan Heathcote performs on the balance beam for Columbus North High School. Columbus North won 108.775-103.85 over Owen Valley in gymnastics Thursday February 26, 2014. (Photo by Joe Harpring)

When Columbus North gymnastics coach Sandy Freshour talks about senior Megan Heathcote, the first word that comes to mind is “genius.”

Heathcote has recorded a perfect 800 math score on the SAT and has scored 34 on the ACT. She ranks sixth in her class and wants to study finance at either Notre Dame or Indiana University.

But there’s more to Heathcote than brains. She’s not a bad gymnast either.

A week after winning the floor exercise in helping lead the Bull Dogs to the Columbus East Sectional title, Heathcote helped North to the East Regional crown and a berth in Saturday’s state finals at Ball State.

“She is a team leader,” Freshour said. “She leads by example. Humility is off the charts. We couldn’t ask for a better example of what it is to be a scholar-athlete leading our team.”

In addition to her academic and gymnastics pursuits, Heathcote is president of North’s National Honor Society, senior class treasurer and co-editor of the Log yearbook. She is in Quill and Scroll and is a child care provider for First United Methodist Church.

If you go

What: Gymnastics State Finals

When: 1 p.m. Saturday

Where: Worthen Arena, Ball State Unviersity, Muncie

TEAMS: Columbus East,

Columbus North, Connersville, Fort Wayne Carroll, Fort Wayne Dwenger, Jay County, Merrillville, Portage and Valparaiso

“She does all kinds of cool stuff,” Freshour said. “Her daytimer is probably five inches thick. She is the most organized. She has things planned two weeks before we decide to ask her to do something.”

“I have a busy schedule,” Heathcote said. “I have a lot of nights where I stay up late doing homework and stuff, but everything kind of has its time, and I have my schedule figured out perfectly, so everything kind of fits in. It’s busy, but I love everything I do so much, and I wouldn’t sacrifice any of it.”

Heathcote, who was a club gymnast, didn’t compete in high school gymnastics until last year. One of her cousins, Tessa Lane, was a standout gymnast for the Bull Dogs, and one of her friends, Chelsea Wieland, who was a senior on last year’s squad, talked her into coming out for the team.

“I’m a part of a bunch of other things in high school, but I haven’t done any other high school sports, and gymnastics has always kind of been my sport,” Heathcote said. “I’ve been happy. I’ve only done high school gymnastics for two years, but it was such a good decision. Both years have been a lot of fun.”

Last year, Heathcote still competed in a couple of club meets, but this year she’s been solely focused on the high school season.

“It’s more of a team atmosphere,” Heathcote said. “Club gymnastics is so much about individual and how you do. There is a team aspect, but it’s not nearly as focused as the high school one is. It’s fun seeing some of my little friends that do club gymnastics come and watch us because that was me a few years ago.”

In Friday’s regional, Heathcote finished sixth in the all-around competition with a 35.9. She took fifth on the floor (9.325), tied for sixth on the bars (8.75), tied for 10th on the vault (9.075) and was 11th on the beam (8.75). She was the only senior to compete for the Bull Dogs.

“She’s stepped up on bars quite a bit this year,” North assistant coach Bob Arthur said. “She’s added a release this year that she didn’t have last year. She’s added a full twist and dismount, so from my standpoint she’s been a big contributor on bars.”

“She’s an all-around gymnast,” Freshour said. “She’s spunky, she’s gutsy, she has great aesthetics. Megan has done some crazy new things on the events and has just been great.”

Heathcote considers the floor her best and favorite event.

“Floor, you can have a lot of fun on,” Heathcote said. “It’s a power event, but also it’s a graceful event. I like both of those aspects.”

Freshour said Heathcote is one of several gymnasts on the team who thrive in school.

“Our whole team, I wouldn’t want to even total up the number of honors and AP class that our kids are taking right now,” Freshour said. “They were buried with homework and projects and assignments to finish the nine weeks (Friday), and I know lots of nights they’re working their tails off at practice, and then they go home and they have another few hours of homework to do.

“They’re ‘A’ students,” she said. “They’re incredibly gifted academically, and Megan sets the curve.”

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