New kid on the block

Last summer, prior to her freshman year of high school, Abby Lewis trained with the Columbus North gymnasts.

But after originally enrolling at North, Lewis switched to Columbus East three days before the start of school in August, mainly because of volleyball and friends.

Although she played on the freshman volleyball team in the fall, Lewis made the varsity in gymnastics. This afternoon, she’ll be part of an East squad that will compete in the state finals at Ball State University.

Lewis’ older sister, Audrey, played volleyball and gymnastics at North and now plays volleyball at Murray State. Older brother Sam was a swimmer at East and is now a freshman at Indiana University.

Audrey Lewis was able to see her sister compete when East hosted North in early January.

“She comes to watch me, but she refuses to wear orange,” Abby Lewis said. “She’s still a hardcore North fan.”

That may change if Abby Lewis continues to shine for the Olympians. She finished 14th in the all-around competition in both the sectional and regional at Columbus East.

In the regional, she came away with a 10th-place finish on the uneven bars with an 8.775.

“I feel like I definitely could have done better, and there’s a lot of room to improve on things for the state meet,” she said. “I need to clean up everything a little bit more and become better prepared.”

That Abby Lewis is a key player on a state-bound gymnastics team might seem improbable, considering she spent the past three years away from the sport. Besides volleyball, she did cheerleading and track, but she always had the intention of returning to gymnastics in high school.

Now that she’s back, she is doing higher-level skills than she was before her hiatus.

“I think that coming back into it, I realized how much I enjoyed it and how much I actually missed it,” she said.

East coach Nancy Kirshman is impressed with how much Lewis has improved, given her increase in height while she was away from gymnastics.

“She has a lot of talent,” Kirshman said. “She’s had a huge growth spurt, and once you’ve left gymnastics for awhile and don’t continue through the growth spurt, it’s a real hard thing to come back and get the timing back. So she’s just getting her timing back on things, and she’s doing a good job there.”

At state, Abby Lewis is hoping to improve her vault, beam and floor scores. The Olympians will be shooting for a top-four finish, which would put them on the medals stand.

East finished second behind North at both the sectional and regional and has the sixth-best regional score among the nine teams that qualified for state.

“It’s incredible; it’s unbelievable,” Lewis said. “When I came in, I didn’t even think we would even get anywhere near this, so it’s awesome.”

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IHSAA state gymnastics finals

When: 1 p.m. (opening ceremonies at 12:30 p.m.)

Where: Worthen Arena, Ball State University

Teams: Columbus East, Columbus North, Chesterton, Crown Point, Elkhart Central, Fort Wayne Dwenger, Homestead, Owen Valley, Valparaiso

Tickets: $9

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