When Columbus East hosts a gymnastics sectional Friday night and a regional March 14, it will be a little more crowded than in past years.
The IHSAA has reduced the number of gymnastics sectionals from eight to six and the number of regionals from four to three. As a result, there will be more teams in each sectional.
“We’ve already received a memo from East saying it’s going to last a lot longer,” Columbus North coach Sandy Freshour said. “I think we’ll all have to run through it once this way. Then, I’m sure there will be a lot of discussion about how it went. Cost of judges and availability of judges, this made a lot more sense and was economically better.”
East coach Nancy Kirshman said a lack of judges was the key factor in the realignment.
“They’ve been talking about this for a couple of years,” Kirshman said. “We need some of these young girls who are graduating after college to get their judging license because there are not enough officials.”
IHSAA assistant commissioner Sandra Walter, who oversees gymnastics, said
73 of its 412 member schools field teams of one to
“We lost some schools, but the realignment was more due to some imbalance of schools, and some was due to travel,” Walter said. “While no one wants to discuss how long gymnastics will be around, we aren’t gaining schools. We don’t see the numbers growing, but they’re not diminishing either. They’re staying pretty steady.”
The 12-team East sectional also includes Seymour, Bloomington North, Bloomington South, Franklin Central, Indianapolis Cathedral, Jeffersonville, Martinsville, Owen Valley and Roncalli. The top two teams will still qualify for regional.
“Everybody starts with score 0 at the beginning of the meet, so for anybody to get through, us included, it depends on hitting our routines,” Freshour said. “Based on rankings, we would be the favorite, but 34 years of coaching has granted me wisdom that you take nothing for granted.”
The Connersville Sectional will still be the only other sectional feeding into the East Regional. This year, three teams will qualify to state out of each regional, up from two in recent years and one in the distant past.
“I have always liked the Final Four,” Kirshman said. “Years ago, when they went to the final eight, they thought by taking more teams, it would grow the sport. It’s not always the quality gymnastics that should get to the state level.
“I really wish they would have taken the two and then if they’d taken a ninth team, make it somebody who has met a qualifying score,” she said. “It makes it a very long day. They go up there and warm up, and it could be three hours before they compete.”
Icemen to play for title
The Columbus Icemen will play Culver for the Indiana State High School Hockey Association 5A title at 8 p.m. Saturday at Lutheran Health Sportscenter in Fort Wayne.
The Icemen advanced to the final by going 2-1 to finish second behind Culver in the four-team Final Four pool last weekend in South Bend. Columbus beat Lake Central 3-2 on Friday, then edged South Bend St. Joseph 3-2 in overtime on Saturday afternoon before falling to Culver 4-2 Saturday night.
The Icemen were the only team to score against Culver, but gave up three power-play goals. Andrew Schwartz and Cam Wiederhoeft scored for Columbus, with Drew Yeley and Schwartz providing the assists. Braden Phelps recorded 45 saves.
“We have as good a shot as we’ve ever had with regards to how we match up with them,” Icemen coach Rich Gordon said. “They have some power-play goals they converted on. We have a really good shot.”
Senior Dalane Shaull, who led Columbus Christian to the Indiana Christian State Tournament title on Saturday, was named the tourney’s most valuable player.
Josh Miracle and Austin Straub joined Shaull on the All-Tournament Team. Straub won the ICST Christian Character Award.
Girls make All-District 3
Four area girls basketball seniors have been named to the Hoosier Basketball Coaches Association District 3 All-Star team.
North’s Kelsey Cunningham and Tayler Goodall and East’s Allyson Bunch made the 10-player District 3 squad, along with Brown County’s Whitney Williamson.
North junior takes 2nd
Columbus North junior Chase Ballard, who was competing unattached, ran
9 minutes, 46.98 seconds to finish second in the boys 3,200 meters in the DePauw University HSR Qualifier on Saturday.
Brown County junior Emily Brady took third in the girls pole vault at 10 feet, 6 inches. Brady had earlier qualified for this month’s USATF Nationals in the pole vault, long jump and 60-meter hurdles through a Midwest Qualifier at Purdue.
Ted Schultz is a sports reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at email@example.com