VALPARAISO | A vocal band of Kylee Maxwell supporters that included family, friends, classmates, her principal and chemistry teacher sat in the south balcony of Viking Gym Friday, and the Morgan Township sophomore made it worth their trip.
Maxwell won uneven bars and was runner-up on vault and balance beam to earn the all-around title at the Valparaiso Regional with a 38.175.
"It helps out to have them cheering me on, but sometimes I almost don't like it because I don't want to disappoint people," Maxwell said. "They were all saying they wanted to be here, so it was nice that they came to support me."
The highlight of the performance for Maxwell was hitting her back tuck on beam. A fall at the sectional cost her the all-around title there.
"My expectations coming in were just to make it to state," she said. "I wanted to do well on because I (won) last year. I wish I could have done better on floor. I was bouncing everywhere."
Making it back: Danielle Solis won floor exercise (9.7) and vault (9.8), placing third all-around for Portage, but the senior was happiest about qualifying for state again as a team.
"I had nice scores, but I was more focused on going as a team," she said. "I wanted it so bad for the girls. They've worked so hard. We've worked the best together as a team. Though we lost (state champion) Mackenzie Barcelli, our three and four girls really stepped up and made such a big improvement to fill the gap."
Portage was sitting fourth headed into its last rotation, but posted a 28.725 to pass Merrillville and Logansport.
"We killed floor, which is exactly what we needed," Solis said. "We had a little pep talk before and we knew what we had to do."
Gutting it out: Teammate Madison Kurtz tweaked her knee on a bars landing in warmups but made it through the rest of the meet.
"I landed really hard," she said. "It was really sore, but I knew I was going to compete, no matter what. My team needed me."
Kurtz finished fifth on floor and beam.
"I'm pretty sure the pain was non-existent on her floor routine," coach Karen Barcelli said. "I think she'll be OK."
Repping the Trojans: Brandi Tuzinski, Chesterton's sole participant, advanced in the all-around, placing fifth.
"It means a lot," said Tuzinski, who made state in all-around as a sophomore. "It was my goal this year. I would've taken an event, but I didn't want to end up short. It's not the way I wanted it. I wanted to have the team here (competing), but it was nice to have their support and I'm happy I could do it for them."
Tuzinski tied for third on floor and finished fifth on on bars.
"Floor's my most confident event," she said. "I've been having trouble with my walking out, but I really hit it. I would just love to chill out on beam a little more and not freak out so much."
'Dogs in the house: Hannah Best knew she was already headed for state on floor exercise, having hit the automatic qualifying standard, but the Crown Point sophomore received more than she bargained for when her name was announced for sixth place all-around.
"It feels really special," she said. "I knew I was going on floor, but I wanted to do more. I needed a couple tenths on bars and I was nervous going into beam. It's not always my best event, but I had the best beam routine of my whole gymnastics career."