VALPARAISO — Trailing Valparaiso by 0.35 points heading into the last rotation, Chesterton coach Dawn Matthys had some mixed feelings.
"I was nervous, but we were going on floor, which is our best event," she said. "It's been consistent all year, so I was also confident."
The Trojans rewarded their coach's confidence with a combined score of 28.8 on the event. That total proved to be just enough Saturday as the Trojans scored 113.975 for the program's first regional crown since 2007, nipping the Vikings' 113.925 and also ending host Valpo's run of 10 straight regionals titles
Portage qualified for next week's state finals for the first time since 2015, finishing third with 110.075. Johnna Vaughan led the Indians with a 9.65 on floor that earned a tie for second. Michaella Drake hit the qualifying standard on beam (9.45) and floor (9.525).
"I always say you're striving for a perfect 10 in gymnastics and we haven't got there yet," Matthys said. "In the last couple of years, our best meet of the year has always been sectionals. This year, we're on right track where our perfect meet will be at state."
Specalists Alyssa Donovan and Brittney Troup came up big for the Trojans with Donovan's 9.625 on beam earning her second and Troup's 9.65 on floor placing her in a tie for second.
"Those two were huge for us," Matthys said of Donovan and Troup. "Those girls have probably worked the hardest all week because they didn't have to do four events, they just had to clean up the event they were specializing in. I'm very happy for both of them."
Hunzelman's 37.85 in the all-around was good for second, as she repeated as champ on beam (9.775), tying for fifth on vault (9.45) and floor (9.575). Teammates Jordan Bush (37.3) took fourth and Mia Pak (37.075) tied for fifth in all-around. Pak won on bars (9.55) and vault (9.575).
"I didn't score as high as I'd like to on bars, but then I went on beam and did great with my highest score of the season, so it felt really good to do that," Hunzelman said. "Getting second here last year, it feels really good to come back and win this time."
Gallery: Valparaiso Regional gymnastics meet
The Region's best gymnasts descend upon Valparaiso.
For defending state champ Valparaiso, their total was a season high for the second straight week.
"We came up a little bit short but we're still not giving up, it was five hundredths of a points," coach Lorie Cook said. "All of our kids had great meets and we didn't count any falls and we did great down the line. I'm thrilled with how we competed in the pressure cooker. Chesterton is a great team, no doubt about it, but we're still going after it. We're right there and we're going to go after after it until we can't go after it anymore."
Valpo's Whitney McKeon scored a 37.925 to the all-around with a fourth on bars (9.375) and a tie for third on beam (9.6). Teammate Rachel Moneta placed third in the all-around (37.65), defending her title on floor (9.75) and tying for fifth on vault (9.45). Jenna Algozine was second on bars (9.5) and Lizzy Wilson was also second on vault (9.525), adding a sixth on bars (9.3) and a fourth on floor (9.525)
"I didn't get my highest score on bars, but it felt tight and I felt like I hit my handstands, so that made me even do better on beam because I was so excited and pumped about that," McKeon said. "We feel pretty good as a team because a lot of us did our personal bests (Saturday) and I think that's really good for us heading into next weekend."
Crown Point advanced three individuals to state with Kaleigh Stack (9.45 on floor) and Kaitlyn Smith and Madison Rolle (both 9.3 on beam) hitting the qualifying standard.
"It shows how much they practiced this week," Crown Point coach Ami Pysh said. "When you only have one event, you're doing it over and over again and it becomes like riding a bike. It's pretty indicative of what they've been doing all along."
"It's a good feeling to be going back down to state," Stack added. "I felt good about my routine today and changed a couple of things and I felt like that improved it and got me to where I am."
Merrillville's Abby Smith also advanced, taking fifth on bars with a 9.325.
"I practiced really hard this week and it feels really good that the hard work paid off," Smith said. "I'm going to clean up as much as I can and stay tight and stay confident."