MUNCIE | Kylee Maxwell was satisfied when coach Christine Nevill told the Morgan Township sophomore she’d likely placed second or third in all-around.
It wasn't until the medals were being handed out that Maxwell realized her coach had pranked her. Nearly standing for the second-place honor, Maxwell realized she had actually won the individual title.
“I wanted to get into the top three,” Maxwell said. “Last year I got in the top five. I’m working my way up.
“I was getting ready to stand for second place and they said a 37.7, and I looked at my mom like, ‘I got a (37.8); Mom, I won!’”
Maxwell also took first place on bars (9.65), but arguably her best event of the day was the vault. Her score improved by nearly a point over last week’s regional.
“I listened, finally,” Maxwell said with a laugh. “I usually pike it because I think I’m in the layout. Today I just decided to actually push my hips out like I’m actually supposed to and I got a 9.8 (good for second place).”
Maxwell, who isn’t shy about being nervous going into big events, said all of the anxiety just melted away when she found out she had won the all-around title.
“That pain in your stomach, you know, that you get when you’re nervous?” Maxwell said. “All of it was gone.”
Solis solstice: In the final event of her high school gymnastics career, Portage senior Danielle Solis scored a 9.75 to win floor exercise.
“I knew that I’ve been doing a pretty good floor routine all year,” she said. “It was my last event, so I wanted to end my senior year strong.”
The defending state champion, Portage (109.9) finished in fourth place as a team. The first-place finish on floor is the first in any event for Solis, a four-year competitor at the meet.
“I’m sure it was the highlight of the night,” Indians coach Karen Barcelli said. “She has shined on floor all year.”
Trojan horse: When Chesterton failed to advance out of its own sectional as a team, Trojans senior Brandi Tuzinski suddenly became a postseason individual competitor.
Tuzinski compete in all four events at the state meet. Even though she injured her shoulder early in the day, she was able to finish fourth in all-around (37.65)
“I pretty much tried to take this like it was any other event,” Tuzinski said. “I tried not to look at it as a big deal. It was exciting to be able to finish my high school career by competing in all four events.”
Best in show: After just squeaking onto the all-around podium at the Valparaiso regional, Crown Point’s Hannah Best became the third local sophomore to medal in all-around at the meet.
Best placed sixth (37.225), behind Maxwell and Valparaiso’s Lia Milroy.
“I was more confident than I have been before,” said Best, who competed in all-around after qualifying in just two events last year. “It was a lot more nerve-wracking. I wasn’t nervous at all last year, but since I had a good sectional and regional it was better.”
Best’s highest event score was a 9.5 on bars, good for sixth place. It was a revelation for coach Ami Pysh, who told Best all season a medal on bars was possible at the state meet.
“She got her highest score of the year on vault and bars today; she reserved the best for last,” Pysh said. “Of course she’s not going to listen to the coach, but I’ve been telling her, ‘Listen, you have a state bar routine; you do.’ She doesn’t do it for me all year, all year, all year … of course, then she gets a 9.5 and I’m like, ‘What did I tell you?’
“That was fun to be at state and have her get two personal bests.”