VALPARAISO — Chesterton and senior Jordan Bush want the dream to continue.
The Trojans defended their Valparaiso Regional title with a dominating, businesslike performance Saturday to win with 114.45 points. Runner-up Lake Central scored 110.875. Portage took third with 107.55. All three advance to next week’s state finals at Noblesville.
“I know gymnastics can’t last forever, and I’m just going to embrace all that I can now,” said Bush, who also won the all-around title with 38.475.
Bush finished just ahead of Valpo’s Whitney McKeon for the all-around title, winning with a 9.625 on vault, 9.575 each on beam and bars and a 9.700 on floor.
“It felt great because at this meet, I usually have a couple falls here and there the past couple years, so it’s nice to be able to come here for my last time and redeem myself,” Bush said.
Chesterton’s Sophie Hunzelman finished third in the all-around, including a first-place finish on beam (9.700), to help the cause, while sophomore Mia Pak stuck the bars routine again, scoring a 9.800. Pak also took sixth in the vault.
The Trojans were relaxed before each routine but focused.
“Our plan right now is to kind of stay the course,” Chesterton coach Dawn Matthys said. “We do enough at practice to be comfortable and know that we have it, and we come in confident.”
The Trojans don’t let the pressure of being the defending state champion alter their course.
“It’s a new team. It’s new faces. It’s just that they’ve done the work,” Matthys said. “They’re all experienced competitors.”
‘Our year to make history’
Lake Central’s warm-up shirts have the motto “Our year to make history” emblazoned on the back. The Indians took it another step by qualifying as a team for state.
“They did everything they needed to do," L.C. coach Karen Barcelli said.
Freshman Cloe Amanatidis and sophomore Maddie Bugg led the way, finishing fourth and fifth in the all-around. Amanatidis tied for third on the floor, was fourth in beam and fifth in bars. Bugg finished in the top 10 of every event.
“All of them stepped up,” Barcelli said. “Everybody did what they’ve been practicing all week. That’s all I can ask. They left everything on the floor.”
Bugg said the team scoring a 27.525 on beam, its third rotation, was key.
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“We needed to be solid, and our first person (Allison Mybeck) set the tone really good, and that kind of made us feel more confident,” Bugg said.
Bugg said it was a goal to make state as a team and not as individuals.
“We really want to place in the top two to get those rings," Bugg said. "And we want to do our best, and we want to do a lot for our seniors.”
Survive and advance
Portage scored 2.6 points less than it did last week at sectionals, but it was enough to advance.
“I’m just so glad that we’re so strong on vault and floor to make up where we have our oopsies on the other two events today,” Portage coach Mackenzie Barcelli said. “Luckily, we’re strong enough on all four that we can make up where we mess up.”
Portage scored 27.65 on vault and 27.625 on floor. Bobbie Russell was second in vault with a 9.775, while Michaella Drake was sixth on floor and 10th in bars.
McKeon to rep Valparaiso at state
Valparaiso was competing without a team at the regional for the first time since 2001, in part due to injuries.
“We had bad timing,” Vikings coach Lorie Cook said. “No excuses. We felt like if we had a really good meet last week, we could be there. Obviously, we had a couple mistakes and it costs us. Hats off to the other teams. This is an awesome area for gymnastics.”
Cook said McKeon, who scored a 38.15 on the all-around, had a great day.
“She hit every routine, competing by herself which she isn’t used to and was a little bit down about,” Cook said. “She had the two more nerve-racking events to start and hit ‘em right away. She scored over a 38, which is awesome. This is a fantastic regional.”
McKeon said she got some encouragement from Bush after the sectional.
“She saw that I was having a rough time because I was nervous about not making it out of the sectional,” McKeon said. “She came up and hugged me. That was so nice to know that she supports me, and I support her. That’s really cool.”