CHESTERTON | After a pair of falls in the first rotation, Valparaiso was in an unfamiliar sectional position on Saturday -- trailing.
Two Vikings fell during the floor exercise, but Valparaiso (111.55) recovered in its third and fourth rotations to capture the team title at the Chesterton Sectional.
Merrillville (109.8) used a fourth-rotation rally to finish second, and Portage (109.725) took third.
Portage led after two rotations, but Valparaiso scored meet-highs on the bars (28.325) and beam (27.825) to pick up a 11th consecutive sectional team title.
The Vikings have now won 22 sectionals, tied with Marion for the second-most in IHSAA history.
“Of course, we know the score (as the meet progresses). We always know,” Valparaiso coach Lorie Cook said. “It’s not one event; it’s four events. Whatever it takes, it’s the end (score) that counts.
"You always focus on what you can control. You can’t control what you’ve already done, you’ve got to focus on the next thing. That’s what we tried to do.”
Valparaiso’s gymnasts finished fourth, fifth, sixth and 11th on the bars -- their scores ranging from 9.475 to 8.9 -- to overtake Portage in the third rotation before securing the win with second- , fifth- , eighth- and 20th-place finishes on the beam.
“It’s not exactly what we want, but we wanted a win,” Cook said. “We wanted to advance and a win would be nice and we got to do both. It’s great.”
Merrillville took advantage of a strong fourth-rotation performance on the vault to overtake Portage for second place, advancing out of the sectional for the first time in six years.
“I haven’t felt this way since 2008,” Pirates coach Diane Roberts said. “We remember how elated we were in 2008, and this is the same feeling.
"Despite counting three falls, we still managed to pull slightly ahead of Portage, and we held our own.”
Portage senior Danielle Solis (38.075) won the all-around title with firsts on the vault (9.85), beam (9.5) and floor (9.7).
“It’s probably the greatest accomplishment that I can think of,” said Solis, a senior. “It’s exciting because last week (at the DAC meet) I knew I had a chance at it, but I had that little floor thing (an uncharacteristic fall).
"To come back and be even stronger was more fulfilling.”
Morgan Twp. sophomore Kylee Maxwell won the bars (9.625) and finished second in all-around (37.85) after falling on the beam.
Valparaiso’s Lia Milroy and Chesterton’s Brandi Tuzinski (3.7) tied for third in the all-around while Crown Point’s Hannah Best (37.5) and Merrillville’s Heather Osorio (37.25) rounded out the top six.