MORGAN TWP. | Having a bad meet or event isn’t necessarily a make-or-break situation for most high school gymnasts.
Yes, an all-around score may suffer. But for the most part, many gymnasts can look to teammates to pick up the slack when something goes wrong.
Morgan Twp. sophomore Kylee Maxwell doesn’t have that option. For the second year in a row, Maxwell is Morgan’s lone competitor, taking on some of the best high school gymnasts in the state without the support of a team.
It’s a challenge Maxwell enjoys, and it’s a challenge the sophomore has met head-on, often successfully. As a freshman, she finished tied for fifth (37.150) in the all-around at the IHSAA state championship meet. On Saturday, she finished second all-around (37.850) at the Chesterton sectional.
If not for an uncharacteristic fall on the beam, Maxwell might have captured the all-around title.
“I couldn’t ask for her to do anything better besides not fall on beam,” coach Christine Nevill said with a laugh. “That fall on beam cost her, so we’ll probably go in the gym this week and build up her confidence on beam. Beam’s never been an issue for her; that’s always been one of her stronger (events).”
Despite the fall in her first rotation, Maxwell recovered to win the bars (9.625), finish second on the vault (9.750) and tie for second on the floor (9.600).
She said the encouragement of other gymnasts has helped her to regain her confidence.
“Every other team helps me out,” Maxwell said. “They push me and tell me I can do it. It really helps a lot.”
Maxwell was a virtual unknown among area coaches at the beginning of her freshman season, but she quickly made a name for herself. Now that everyone is watching, Nevill thinks the sophomore might be putting a little too much pressure on herself.
“Within herself, nerves-wise, yes (it’s harder), because there are expectations of her; everyone knows who Kylee is now, so they’re waiting to see what Kylee’s going to do,” said Nevill, who coached at Hobart for over a decade and has known Maxwell for several years, but is in her first season as Maxwell’s high school coach. “Each year will be a little bit harder as it goes along; there will be a little bit more pressure.”
For her part, Maxwell doesn’t mind. She just enjoys performing well, giving her new-found fan base something to cheer about.
Though she may compete as an individual, Maxwell doesn’t want for lack of a cheering section. She grew up in club gymnastics with most of the Valapraiso gymnasts and the Vikings parents — consistently among the loudest at meets — cheer her on as one of their own.
The added support is exactly what Maxwell needs.
“I grew up with them at the gym,” Maxwell said. “It’s nice; it helps me out. It’s really fun because I get really nervous but they calm me down.”