One-two punch

Despite a first-place finish at last weekend’s sectional meet, the Columbus North gymnastics team hadn’t been too thrilled with its performance.

The Bull Dogs were a bit happier Saturday.

Sparked by an outstanding start on the uneven bars, North built a comfortable lead early and cruised to the team championship at the Columbus East Regional.

The Bull Dogs finished the day with 112.6 points, more than two full points better than their sectional score. Columbus East was second, using a strong finish on the floor exercise to edge Owen Valley, 109.75 to 109.425.

All three of those teams advance to the state championships next Saturday at Ball State University.

East sophomore Adi Minor was the all-around champion with a total of 38.725, edging Anna Watkin of Owen Valley, who finished with a 38.375. Minor’s score eclipsed the state’s previous high score this season, a 38.6 by Watkin.

Minor also took first in three individual events — vault (9.8), bars (9.7) and balance beam (9.55). She finished second to Watkin on the floor exercise.

“Honestly, I didn’t really know what to think coming in,” Minor said. “I just really wanted the team to make it to state. That was the main goal for today.”

North’s Claire Thompson was third in the all-around (37.825), while Ashley Holliday (37.6) was fourth and Katrina May (36.6) sixth.

The Bull Dogs took control of the team showdown right away, putting up 28.675 points on the bars behind 9.6 scores from Holliday and May. Thompson rounded out a strong opening rotation with a 9.475.

May had to settle for an 8.25 on the beam after falling off twice, but with Kaitlyn Calandro having led off with an 8.825, it was a score North could afford to live with.

“When the first girl up can get a good score, it relaxes the next three coming up,” Bull Dogs co-coach Sandy Freshour noted.

Calandro came through again for North in the final rotation, opening with another 8.825 on the vault. That enabled the final three Bull Dogs to go all out, and it showed in the scores — May finished with a 9.675, Holliday a 9.65 and Thompson a 9.625.

By that time, the team championship had long since been wrapped up, and it was the Olympians and the Patriots battling for second. Down by 0.325 points going into the last rotation, East did what it needed to do on the floor. Andrea Stattenfield put up a 9.425 and Seena Greiwe added a 9.15, leaving Minor to finish the job.

Needing only to beat 9.2 to claim the all-around and 9.325 to give the Olympians second place, Minor did both with ease, helping guarantee her team another weekend of competition.

Advancing was extra sweet for Minor, who missed last year’s postseason after breaking her leg in the final meet of the regular season. East finished fourth at the 2015 regional, missing state by one spot.

Minor says the Olympians, currently ranked sixth in the state, are hoping for a top-five finish next weekend.

“Hit four for four — everyone to hit all their four events, to do their very best, go up to Muncie and make the trip count,” she said of East’s goals at the state meet.

For No. 2-ranked North, meanwhile, the goals are even more lofty. Co-coach Bob Arthur said he feels the team has been training extremely well, and he’s hopeful that the Bull Dogs can nail all of their routines at Ball State.

“If we hit, we’re in a good position for a first-place finish,” he said.

“Sectionals was all right, and we had this meet to boost us,” Thompson added, “and we’ve just got to have that confidence for state to do it there.”