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Duo hoping to help land Olympians in state finals

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WHILE playing basketball as a freshman at Columbus East, Samantha Rose tended to notice the gymnastics team practicing in the school’s upper gym.

Thinking she would be better at the sport and have more fun, Rose made the move to gymnastics as a sophomore. She’s stuck with it, and now as a senior will try to help the Olympians reach the state finals.

“I did basketball, and we always saw them,” Rose said. “I was like ‘I’m not very good at basketball, so I’m going to do gymnastics next year.’ Then I tried to get the whole basketball team to do it, and they were like ‘Yeah, we’ll be there.’ Then, I was the only one there.”

Rose, of course, had her new gymnastics teammates. Midway through that first season with East, that would include freshman Jaycie Jaggers, a former club gymnast who had taken a year off from

the sport.

“I’m definitely not as good as I was when I was in club since I was out for a year,” Jaggers said. “But I’m getting there again.”

Jaggers and Rose, along with freshman teammates Becca Bryan and Seena Greiwe, led the Olympians to a third-place finish in last week’s East Sectional. They’ll need a top-three finish in Friday’s East Regional to make a return trip to the state finals.

Rose did not compete in last year’s sectional or regional but competed on the vault at the state meet, when the Olympians finished fifth as a team. She just competed in her first sectional and will compete in her first regional Friday.

“It’s exciting, but I’m nervous at the same time,” Rose said. “It’s pretty nerve-racking, but you get used to it. You have to learn to stay calm.”

East coach Nancy Kirshman said Rose has made big strides over the past three seasons.

“She came in to the summer program with us, and that’s tough,” Kirshman said. “She has some natural jumping ability, and that’s what I’ve always told her — use that gift she has. She doesn’t have very much flexibility at all, but she’s tough.

“We pushed her through basics, so she doesn’t have the best basics, and when you don’t have the best basics, you struggle on everything that you put after it,” she said. “She had some natural talent, but had she started as a young child, I think she would have been even far better than she is now. She’s come a long way.”

Rose concedes she wasn’t a great gymnast when she first made the transition from basketball.

“I was awful,” Rose said. “I was loose, and I had to learn to get my legs together and be tight and dance.

“It was confusing,” she said. “It was hard. I was like ‘I guess I’m not as good an athlete as I thought I was.’”

Jaggers, meanwhile, began gymnastics at a young age. She reached Level 8 as a club gymnast before taking the year off prior to starting at East.

“Jaycie has worked hard to take away some bad habits that she developed as a young gymnast,” Kirshman said. “It’s tough when you learn it, and it’s in there. It doesn’t want to go away. To start it again, it’s tough.”

Rose severely pinched a nerve in her back over the summer and wore a back brace at the beginning of the season. Jaggers injured her back about four years ago and still experiences a little stiffness.

“My back is not as flexible as it used to be, but it’s getting better,” Jaggers said.

Jaggers finished sixth in the all-around competition with a 34.625 in the sectional. Rose performed only on the vault, beam and floor and is an alternate on the bars.

“Our sectional wasn’t as strong as we could have been, but we still made it to regional,” Jaggers said.

“We have little things that we need to fix, but we’re working on fixing them,” Rose said.

The top three of the six teams in Friday’s regional, plus any individuals in the top six or meeting the state standard on an event or the all-around, will qualify for the March 22 state finals at Ball State.

“We still have to hit our routines and point our toes and land all of our skills on our feet,” Rose said.

“I think if we do what we’re capable of, we can definitely make it to state,” Jaggers said.

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