Tonight’s Columbus East gymnastics regional could come down to three or four teams competing for the final two qualifying spots to next week’s state finals.
One team — Columbus North — figures to be almost a lock to return to state. The seventh-ranked Bull Dogs, led by a school-record all-around performance from freshman Emily Moore and a runner-up all-around finish from senior Tova Edwards, put up a season-best 111.4 in winning the East Sectional by more than 7 1/2 points.
"We challenged the girls (Monday) to keep the pedal down and keep working to improve their own routines," North co-coach Sandy Freshour said. "I’d really would rather they not focus on any other team going in or on point spreads, but just focus on individual routines and the little things that they can do to maintain the scores that we have."
North’s sectional score was the second-highest in the state behind top-ranked Chesterton’s 114.675 in the Chesterton Sectional. In that sectional, second-ranked Valparaiso finished fifth and did not qualify for regional.
[sc:text-divider text-divider-title=”Story continues below gallery” ]
As they did in the sectional, the Bull Dogs will be the first team up on the beam tonight.
"We don’t need to go crazy," Arthur said. "We’re in a good position. We just need to stay clean with what we’re doing, do what we do well, and what happens will happen."
Meanwhile, the host Olympians will look to make a return trip to state. They finished third in last week’s sectional with a 103.225.
Owen Valley finished second in the East Sectional with a 103.85. Richmond (103.75), New Palestine (102.05) and New Castle (98.65) claimed the three regional-qualifying spots out of the Connersville Sectional.
East coach Nancy Kirshman thinks her team will battle Owen Valley and Richmond for the second and third qualifying spots to the March 9 state finals at Noblesville.
"I think North won’t have any problem, and then the three schools will be vying for those other two spots," Kirshman said. "The mindset is to finish the job and get ourselves up to the state meet. We’re going to take the momentum that our basketball team gave us (Tuesday) night, and take that into Friday."
The Olympians, as they did last week, will begin on the vault.
East’s chances could hinge on the availability of sophomore Taylen Lane. Lane, who sprained an ankle late in the regular season, was able to compete on two events at the sectional and finished second on the beam and eighth on the bars.
Sophomore Elise LaSell, who injured an elbow on her floor routine at sectional, has been practicing all week. Lane, meanwhile, may add the floor to her repertoire tonight.
"We’re still not sure on vault," Kirshman said. "We’ll warm up and see. It’s a possibility, but possibly not necessary. Elise is doing fine, and everybody else is healthy, and we’re ready to go."
[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”If you go” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]
Columbus East gymnastics regional
When: 7 p.m. today
Where: Columbus East High School
Teams competing: Columbus East, Columbus North, New Castle, New Palestine, Owen Valley, Richmond
Advancement: Top three teams and top six individuals in each event qualify for the March 9 state finals at Noblesville.