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Region's depth to be showcased in Saturday's DAC meet

Region's depth to be showcased in Saturday's DAC meet

Chesterton won the Duneland Athletic Conference title a year ago by 1.325 over runner-up Lake Central, while Valparaiso was 2.3 back in third. The DAC meet is likely going to be much, much closer at 11 a.m. Saturday at Chesterton.

“It is,” Chesterton coach Christy Dzierba said. “We have some of the best teams in the state. It’s going to be a battle with LC, Valpo, us and Crown Point right up in there, so it’s going to be good.”

Chesterton, LC and Valpo will all come in with just one conference loss in the regular season, so whoever wins the meet will be crowned DAC champions. Who has the edge?

“We’ve each beaten each other, so no one has an edge,” LC coach Karen Barcelli said. “They’re equally as talented. Whoever performs the best on that particular day is going to win.”

Indeed, LC’s only loss was to Chesterton by .25, while Valpo’s only setback was to Lake Central by .30. Chesterton’s lone blemish was to Valpo by a mere .20.

So who’s the favorite?

“I don’t know if there is a favorite,” Valpo coach Lorie Cook said. “I like our consistency. We have scored in the upper 110s several times which is good.”

Crown Point (3-4) has narrow losses to the top three and coach Ami Pysh said Lake Central is “probably” the favorite.

“But that’s just my opinion,” she said. “We see Valpo early in the season every year. We’ve gotten better and I’m sure they have, too.”

Chesterton (7-1) has won the DAC the past four years and has an experienced team led by talented senior Mia Pak, who scored a career-best 38.9 in the all-around last week in the win over Lake Central. It helps to have Pak at the top of the lineup.

“Yes, it does,” Dzierba said. “We have others too, and one of the new girls, Natalie Jones, who has been stepping up and has been one of the top three. Also Chloe Larson has been one of the top three and Caitlyn Cook.”

Cook scored a 37.4 in the all around in the win over Lake Central.

Dzierba said it’s hard to say who’s favored to win.

“I’d like to say we’re the favorite, but all of the top three have top-level gymnasts,” she said. “Crown Point and Portage also have top-level gymnasts, so it’s whoever is going to hit that day. Who can stay on the beam?”

Valpo (8-1) is talented as well with Gabi Grisafi, Sabrina Falk and Molly Dreher.

“I think we have four really good girls competing,” Cook said. “Freshman Chloe Ochman, she’s won beam a few times and is very consistent on it. She’s done really well on bars, and she’s been right up there with the other kids as well.”

Lake Central (7-1) will counter with Cloe Amanatidis, Hayleigh Delgado and Maddie Bugg.

“We’re not adding anything to the routines at this point,” Barcelli said. “It’s just a matter of cleaning up. They’re not flawless, so their best is yet to come. They’re peaking at the right time.”

Portage is somewhat of a dark horse like Crown Point, and Payton Peele will be in the mix in the top of the all around.

“We’re still putting everything together on our end,” Portage coach Mackenzie Barcelli said. “...Once we hit, we’ll be up there as well.”

Crown Point beats City

Crown Point defeated Michigan City 109.6-87.65 on Thursday, led by senior Lilly Stoelb, who scored a 36.15 in the all around. Sophomore Charlotte Annes scored a 9.6 on beam in the win.

“That was her highest score on beam so far, and that was the highest score of any of our kids this season,” Pysh said.

Annes is only competing on the bars and beam for the DAC meet but that might change for the sectional.

Crown Point is at Lowell with Hobart on Wednesday before the DAC meet on Saturday.

Chesterton edges Lake Central

Chesterton remained in a tie for first in the DAC with a 112.25-112.0 win over Lake Central on Feb. 9. Pak won every event on the way to the 38.9 score in the all-around.

“That was awesome,” Dzierba said.

Chesterton surged ahead after a strong performance on beam. Pak, Cook and Jones all did well on the beam, with scores of 9.55, 9.15 and 9.25 respectively.

“Natalie was a real difference maker on the beam,” Dzierba said.

Chesterton also beat Merrillville 107.2-105.15 on Thursday. Pak won the all-around with a 37.95.

Merrillville’s Nieya Abel took second in the all around with a 36.2.

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