Gymnastics | State finals

Perspective at state gymnastics meet different for Chesterton, Portage

2012-03-14T19:00:00Z 2013-02-17T15:07:10Z Perspective at state gymnastics meet different for Chesterton, PortageBy Jim Hunsley jim.hunsley@nwi.com, (219) 548-4356 nwitimes.com

Chesterton's Brandi Tuzinski returns to Ball State University's Worthen Arena on Saturday, but the situation will be different for the Trojans sophomore gymnast.

Tuzinski again qualified for the IHSAA finals, but now she will be competing as an individual. This is the first time since 2009 that Chesterton has not advanced to state as a team.

"It should be completely different," Tuzinski said. "I still hope being down there before will help."

Tuzinski participated in three events at state last season, with her best finish a fourth on vault (9.575). Tuzinski is an all-around qualifier this time around.

Tuzinski will not be the only part of the Chesterton team going through a transition. First-year coach and alum Lauren West was a part of four team appearances for the Trojans.

"It's a new process for me also," West said. "We're at the same level. We're just trying to have fun and go through a stress-free week."

Practices have also been modified, since the coaching staff is now just working with one pupil.

"We don't want to overwhelm her with suggestions, since it's two coaches and just one girl," West said.

Tuzinski likes the change in routine.

"We're taking it a little more slowly, and the practices aren't as long," she said. "I have a better chance to relax myself."

Tuzinski feels ready for Saturday, and her sights are setting on higher marks.

"My mindset is to do the best I can, and I want to try to beat my scores from last year," she said. "I do feel better, since the pressure appears to be off me."

PORTAGE RE-FOCUSES FOR STATE: Advancing to state as a team has been a season-long goal for the Portage's gymnastics team.

A first crown since 1975 would also be nice, but coach Karen Barcelli doesn't want that to be the sole focus of her second-ranked squad.

"Everybody that is going down can win," she said. "We cannot make that our focus, because then they might falter. We're just focusing on going down there and competing. Whatever happens happens."

Barcelli also said that the team is healthy. Daughter Mackenzie limped after her final vault. Teammate Danielle Solis under-rotated on her second vault attempt and nearly fell directly on her head. Barcelli said both gymnasts are no worse for wear.

"They might have been going for it a little too much and their nerves got the best of them," the coach added. "Everything is fine now.

"I think we're pretty solid. We've been able to clean some things up."

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