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COLUMBUS East senior Daran Brady was flying through her uneven bars routine in Friday’s 103.95-93.75 win against visiting Seymour when she caught her feet on the mat below the lower bar.
Spotting to one side, Olympians coach Nancy Kirshman shook her head and smiled.
Being a veteran and used to encountering a little trouble along the way, Brady didn’t miss a beat as she put together an 8.95, which was good for first place in the event.
But like East’s victory in its season-opener, Brady’s performance left room for improvement.
Brady was asked if she was satisfied with her performance, which included winning every individual event and the all-around at 36.75. “In some areas, yes,” she said. “In other areas, no.
“But this was my first meet since having surgery on my foot, so I kind of went in here praying.”
Brady won the vault with a 9.4, the balance beam with an 8.95 and the floor exercise with a 9.45.
It also was a team victory against Seymour, which was fifth in the state last season.
“I don’t pay attention to the team score,” Brady said. “I don’t want to lose focus.”
Kirshman didn’t want to lose focus that her team needs to be much better.
“Daran and Jaycie Jaggers (third in the all-around at 33.85) had nice meets,” Kirshman said. “But it was a little more rough under the collar than I would like to see. Even though this was our first meet, we have experienced gymnasts.
“I think our biggest problem was that we had a four-day layoff with no practice whatsoever because of Christmas and the snow day. But we have to get past that. We had a terrible practice (Thursday). We have set some lofty goals, and I have told our gymnasts that you have to come out and make people notice you. You want people watching what you are doing.”
Although East might have been off its game a bit, it did have some nice performances in individual events. Sophomore Emily Clancy was second in the vault with a 9.2. Jaggers was second in the uneven bars at 8.75, second in the floor exercise at 8.35 and third in the balance beam at 8.2.
Michelle Wesolowski tied Clancy for fourth in the balance beam at 7.8, and Molly Boggs was fifth in the floor exercise at 7.8.
Seymour was missing senior Kelly Deppen, who was fourth all-around in the state last season. Deppen was out of town for Christmas break.
Owls coach Angie Mellencamp knew that the season-opener would have its share of distractions.
“Winning or losing was not our focus,” she said. “Our focus was gaining experience and getting though our routines clean and safe.
“It was a huge change in our lineup (not having Deppen). All the girls were shook by it. There is a lot of mental prepping involved, knowing what score you have to get for the team. The girls have that mindset what they need to score. It throws off the whole routine.”
The Owls spent Thursday night’s practice working on new routines, such as different release moves on the bars. Mellencamp knew the opener wasn’t going to be packed with big scores.
“I think as an opener, it did its purpose,” she said. “It gave the girls a chance to work out their nerves.
“I think there was relief. We had put in skills that weren’t going to be perfect.”
Seymour freshman Alyssa Goen proved that she has a bright future by placing second in the all-around at 34.05.
Goen was second in the balance beam with an 8.35, third in the uneven bars (8.55) and vault (9.0) and fourth in the floor exercise (8.15).
With Deppen due back now, the Owls are excited about the future.
“The girls are fired up,” Mellencamp said. “We’re going back to the gym right now to practice because they want to.”
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