MUNCIE | Crown Point freshman Hannah Best was the only competitor from Lake County at Saturday's IHSAA gymnastics state finals at Ball State's Worthen Arena.
That's not surprising, however, as the majority of Northwest Indiana's strongest gymnasts lie to the east in Porter County.
What was noteworthy is that Best finished fifth on floor with a 9.45, becoming the first Bulldogs' state medalist since 2005.
“After I nailed my second tumbling pass, I knew to just do what I have to do to end the routine,” Best said. “I've been having a good floor throughout this season.”
The 9.45 was her second-best score of the season. Best put up a 9.55 at the Valparaiso Regional.
“The scoring was definitely tougher (Saturday), but I felt like my routine was better at regionals.”
Freshman sensation: Morgan Township's one-girl team of freshman Kylee Maxwell performed well at her first state meet. She finished 10th on floor (9.35), 21st on bars (8.85), but excelled on the beam, finishing sixth (9.225) and placed fifth in the vault (9.725).
Those scores helped Maxwell tie for fifth all-around (37.150).
“(It was) fun and scary, just non-experience and not knowing what to do and what to expect,” she said. “I was happy with my floor and vault. Beam was OK, but I could have done better in bars.”
Making a name for Michigan City: At a school not known much for its gymnastics prowess, sophomore Ashley Koza did her part to put the Wolves on the map.
Koza placed ninth in bars with a 9.325, her only event.
“Last time someone has been here from City was like six, seven years ago,” she said. “It was amazing. It's kind of like a Cinderella story. I'm just glad to be representing my school.”
Koza's best bars score this season was a 9.4 at the Duneland Athletic Conference meet. She had to wait until nearly the end of the meet to compete in the fourth rotation.
“I warmed up, sat for a little bit, then I went and warmed up in the other gym some more,” she said. “It wasn't bad.”
Sitting and waiting: Chesterton junior Brandi Tuzinski scored a 9.125 on bars in the first rotation, then had to sit around all day to see where that score stood. Tuzinski ended up finishing 14th in the event.
“I like going first and getting it out of the way,” she said. “ (But) I don't like going first because I feel like those bigger scores are always left at the end. The first few people are warming up, getting ready and (the judges) are a little harder on everybody.”