MUNCIE — It's something about the state meet that Valparaiso's Whitney McKeon takes a liking to.
In her first go-round, McKeon tied for sixth in the all-around as a freshman (37.725), following that up with a fourth as a sophomore (37.575). On Saturday at Ball State's Worthen Arena, McKeon bested those last two scores with a 37.75, good for a fifth-place finish and her third all-around medal.
"I just do well under pressure," she said. "I try to stay positive throughout the whole meet and try not to worry about what everyone else is doing. I was talking to my teammates about how much I overthink everything and Jenna (Algozine) was like, 'Don't go too hard, don't go too soft, just do it how you always do it.' I didn't focus on the fact that this was the state meet, I just focused on my routine and the skills that I do all the time in practice."
McKeon took home hardware on beam for the third straight year, as well, tying for first with a personal-record 9.7. She tied for sixth on vault (9.5) and also set a PR on floor finishing fifth with a 9.625.
"I felt pretty good about everything," she said. "Usually my beam routine is pretty solid and towards the beginning of the season I was doing layout, step-out and I changed it to back handspring. I kept practicing the little things."
Trojans get lift from both young and old: Chesterton freshman Mia Pak got off to a good start at her first state meet leaving with three medals. The frosh was sixth in the all-around (37.6) and tied for second on bars (9.625) and was third on vault (9.525).
"I think she had a little freshman jitters but I'm proud of her," coach Dawn Matthys said. "She's a powerful, hard-working great girl. She has lots of potential to grow even more and I really look forward to watching what Mia does in the next few years."
While she didn't medal and the finishes weren't flashy, the Trojans still got a jolt from senior Brittney Troup who tied for 13th on bars (9.15) and 25th on floor (9.225).
"She led us off on both of those events and she's competed in those events the last three years we've been here," Matthys said. "It's wonderful to have that senior leadership like that and that can't be overlooked."
Bulldogs' trio comes away satisfied: While Crown Point didn't qualify as a team like it had in 2016, the 'Dogs managed to send three gymnasts to Muncie and the returns were positive.
Kaleigh Stack's 9.475 on floor was good for 11th, while Madison Rolle (9.15) and Kaitlyn Smith (9.075) placed 12th and 14th, respectively, on beam.
"They held themselves well under pressure and they were able to pull it out," coach Ami Pysh said. "With those two young sophomore competing on beam in the most nervewreacking event at state and beinb able to stick it, that's a great job. We're very happy with how they did and so are they."
It was a little different scenario than years past for Stack, but her outlook remained positive.
"I think I was a little bit nervous since it was the first time as an individual," she said. "I didn't know what to expect and I prepared pretty well and I think I tried the best that I could. I'm kind of in the middle. I didn't feel like it was the best routine that I've done but I'm pretty happy since it was my first time by myself. It could've been better, but I'm not upset."
Merrillville's Smith fights through fall in warm-ups: Merrillville sophomore Abby Smith qualified on bars and was the Pirates' lone competitor. After a fall during warm-ups, Smith's confidence was shook, leading to a 15th-place finish (9.075).
"I was a little scared going into bars but I got through it," she said. "I could have perfected the routine a lot better and not falling in warm-ups would've helped because I wouldn't been a lot more confident. My handstands could've improved a little bit more, too. I'm not too sad about it, just coming here was still a good experience."