CHESTERTON — After Chesterton’s Mia Pak posted a 9.9 on bars, her teammates sprinted over to congratulate her, each giving her a hug during Saturday’s sectional.
Teammate Jordan Bush was there with the tiara, one the team purchased online to reward the teammate with the “stick” crown for each routine.
“We got (the idea) from LSU gymnastics, the college team,” senior Jordan Bush said, "and I just wanted to cry when her score came up because I’ve been in the spot of breaking the (sectional) record, too. When I saw it, I ran as fast as I could to Mia and gave her the biggest hug I could because I know how amazing it feels.”
It was the impetus for the two-time defending sectional champs to three-peat with 114.675 points to outdistance runner-up Lake Central’s 110.825. Portage was third with 110.150. The top three teams advance to next week’s Valparaiso Regional. It's the first time since 2001 that the Vikings didn't qualify as a team for regional.
“I didn’t realize my score was going to be that high,” said Pak, a sophomore. “I knew it was really good. Once I saw the score, I was like, ‘That’s not real. This isn’t real.’ It was crazy, but having the team out there supporting me, it helped a lot.”
Pak was happy to wear the crown.
“It’s just like a symbol that ‘You did awesome, you’re amazing, you’re a queen,’” she said. “Jordan went before me and stuck her routine, so after I went, she gave it to me.”
Chesterton coach Dawn Matthys said Pak’s routine set the tone with a combined 29.25 team score on the bars.
“For us to leave our first rotation with a 9.9 showing on the flasher, … everybody feels more confident,” she said. “We get into a nice groove. It’s a great way to start.”
Bush, who finished third in the all-around with 37.875, said the team brought a lot of confidence into the sectional in their own building.
“It was nice to have the last one here with my team, all the girls and my coaches,” Bush said.
Bush was somewhat pleased with her third in the all-around.
“Every gymnast always strives for the perfect 10, as my coach says, too,” she said. “We always have ups and downs, and that’s just part of the sport.”
Pak also won vault with a 9.725, while Sophia Hunzelman was second in beam (9.7) and bars (9.75) and fourth on floor (9.575), and Baylie was Lawson fifth on vault (9.575) for the Trojans. It was a team effort for the defending state champs.
“We focus on that event, that score, that person,” Pak said. “The person who competes, we’re all in it together.”
It’s a shared belief in staying focused.
“We never think a couple steps forward, we always just live in the moment,” Bush said. “And I think that’s why our team grows every single meet.”