All of Lake Central’s hard work was realized at the Chesterton Sectional, a turning point for this year’s team and the program as a whole.
“That was the make-it-or-break-it moment,” said senior Gabrielle DeVries, who competes in the all-around for L.C. ”We were competing with four teams for what we thought was the last spot, and we ended up getting second. That was super nice.”
Finally getting out of the sectional as a team proved to be an impetus for the Indians and second-year coach Karen Barcelli. The rest, as they say, is history.
“I wasn’t thinking state from the beginning of the season, but I knew we had a very strong team,” Barcelli said. “Basically, I knew the challenge would be getting the girls on the team to realize their potential.”
L.C. took second in the regional to host Chesterton and will make it’s inaugural trek to state at noon Saturday at Noblesville High School, along with the Trojans and Portage.
“Everyone is super excited,” said DeVries, who’s been competing since she was 11. “The whole school is really excited for us, too because this is so new to everyone. Some of the principals and some teachers are coming out to state. It’s super exciting to finally get to go.”
DeVries also knows heartbreak, as she missed qualifying for state on vault by .050 as a sophomore. She’s treasuring this accomplishment along with her teammates.
“I was close to going to state my sophomore (year), but I landed short on that one,” she said. “I’m really excited to get to go this year.”
DeVries’ effervescence helps lift her teammates.
“I get so excited for everyone,” she said. “I want everyone to do good. As soon as they finish their routines, I’m ecstatic. It’s just so exciting.
“We were kind of the underdogs this year, and now we’re like one of the teams to chase. I’m always telling them, ‘Go out there and be confident since people want to beat us.’”
DeVries and fellow senior Sophia Born, who competes on vault and floor, team with sophomore Maddie Bugg and freshman Cloe Amanatidis on the all-around, for formidable rotations.
“We’re just so happy for each other,” DeVries said. “We’re also a well-coached team, and I think that’s what made us stronger this year and what pushed us to get to state.”
Barcelli is no stranger to the finals, having coached Portage to the state championship in 2013 when her daughter, Mackenzie Barcelli, won the all-around title as well. Mackenzie is now coaching Portage.
Karen Barcelli, who coached at Portage for nine seasons, said the 2013 team and this year’s L.C. squad are similar.
“The challenge from the other teams, that’s what is going to be the difference,” she said.
DeVries said it will take near-perfect rotations to win state.
“It would be so nice to win it all,” she said. “That’s what coach tells us, ‘Don’t shoot for second, shoot for first.’”