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Tumbling swan song

By GRADY TATE - gtate@newsexaminer.com

Uniform colors varied on Monday night, as the Connersville High School girls invited gymnasts from four different schools to help them celebrate senior night inside the CHS gymnasium.

Competitors from Shelbyville, Southwestern (Shelby), Cambridge City Lincoln and Waldron joined the Lady Spartans and Union County independent gymnast Hayley Kottka, as the locals put a close on their 2017-18 regular season schedule.

For the Spartans, the capper wound up being a good night, as the team ran its season mark to 9-1 with a pair of victories.

CHS defeated the combined effort of Shelbyville and Southwestern by a score of 101.3 to 91.725, and knocked off the joint effort of Lincoln and Waldron by a 101.3-82.35 margin.

While the two wins were welcomed by the Spartans, the night did come with a few anxious moments. 

“We had a little scare, as Katelyn (Burris) wanted to throw her tsuk tonight in her vault, but fell a little short and got injured,” Connersville head coach Joann Borders said. “We were worried about how she was, but I think she’s going to be okay.

“Whitney (Owens) also had a bad fall on the beam, but she did a nice job finishing her routine.”

In fact, Owens — one of two seniors tumbling for the final time in the CHS gym — wound up as the top gymnast on the night, earning a meet-high all-around score of 33.475.

Connersville’s other upperclassman, Laila Fitzgerald, participated in the vault and floor exercise events, finishing third and fifth, respectively.

Cambridge City Lincoln also had a senior in tow, as Julie Stonerock closed out her regular-season career with the Lady Golden Eagles.

“Julie had the meet of her life tonight,” head coach and former Connersville gymnast Devyn (Duncan) Yates said afterward. “She was very focused and driven throughout the meet. She did everything within her potential to finish out her senior season as best as she could.”

Lincoln brought only one other gymnast to the meet, Alyssa Harris.

“Both of my girls performed very well tonight,” Yates said.

“These two finished with career-highs in every event, with the exception of the uneven bars.”

In the all-around standings, Connersville earned the top five medalist spots, as Allison Hoffman followed Owens as the meet runner-up. Rounding out the top five was Ali Sargent, Kottka and Delaynee Hall. The sixth spot in the individual standings belonged to Shelbyville’s Braelyn Stacy, who finished with a total of 30.15.

Kottka tied with Shelbyville’s Tatum Robertson to claim the vault event. The UC freshman’s score of 8.7 was a career-high, according to her coach, Shawn Kottka. But that wasn’t all. The Lady Patriot tumbler also achieved a career-best on the balance beam, finishing with a mark of 7.375.

Sargent was the winner on the uneven bars with a score of 8.75, a personal best for the CHS junior. 

“Ali won on the bars with a beautiful routine,” Borders said. “She added a release move into her routine, plus hit a pair of giants.”

Hoffman was the winner on the balance beam, earning a score of 8.325, and Owens dominated the floor exercise event with a 9.15.

“On the beam, I thought the kids were a little tired from the invitational over the weekend, but we still did enough to earn a 23.55 team score in that event,” Borders said. “On the floor, the kids came through and did a great job finishing the meet. Whitney scored 9.15, and Ali added some bonus things to her routine and scored an 8.725 for second.”

Along with her personal best on the bars, that score for Sargent on the floor was a new benchmark, as well. Also adding personal bests on the floor for CHS were Hailey McCord (7.375), Victoria Metcalfe (8.3) and Fitzgerald (8-3). 

Connersville’s next action will be at the IHSAA sectional meet, and even the Spartans will host at Spartan Bowl on Saturday, Feb. 24. Borders pointed out her charges are already in postseason mode.

“The girls are all trying to add some things to their various routines in an effort to add a little difficulty, in preparation for the sectional meet coming up,” she said.

Connersville 101.3, Cambridge City Lincoln & Waldron 82.35

Vault — 1. Hayley Kottka (Union County) 8.7; 2. Katelyn Burris (C) 8.65; 3. Laila Fitzgerald (C) 8.6; 4. Whitney Owens (C) 8.4; 5. Kenzy Lynch (C) 8.35; 6. (tie) Delaynee Hall (C) 8.3; 6. (tie) Julie Stonerock (LIN) 8.3. Other Connersville competitors: Allison Hoffman 8.2, Ali Sargent 8.0, Victoria Metcalfe 8.0. Other Lincoln competitor: Alyssa Harris 8.0.

Uneven bars — 1. Sargent 8.75; 2. Kottka 8.575; 3. Owens 8.525; 4. Hoffman 8.325; 5. Hall 7.525; 6. Metcalfe 7.425. Other Connersville competitors: Karly Tracy 6.7, Hailey McCord 5.1. Lincoln competitors: Stonerock 6.325, Harris 4.85.

Balance beam — 1. Hoffman 8.325; 2. Sargent 7.825; 3. Owens 7.4; 4. Kottka 7.375; 5. Erika Huntsman (WAL) 7.35; 6. Taylor Fisher (WAL) 7.325. Other Connersville competitors: Tracy 7.1, Hall 6.85, Lynch 5.4, Mary Willett 3.525. Lincoln competitors: Stonerock 6.6, Harris 6.325.

Floor exercise — 1. Owens 9.15; 2. Sargent 8.725; 3. Lynch 8.625; 4. Hoffman 8.55; 5. (tie) Metcalfe 8.3; 5. (tie) Fitzgerald 8.3; 6. Hall 8.175. Other Connersville competitors: Tracy 7.9, Hailey McCord 7.375. Lincoln competitors: Stonerock 8.1, Harris 6.8.

All-Around — 1. Owens 33.475; 2. Hoffman 33.40; 3. Sargent 33.3; 4. Kottka 32.6; 5. Hall 30.85; 6. Stonerock 29.325. Other Lincoln competitor: Harris 25.975.

Connersville 101.3, Shelbyville & Southwestern 91.725

Vault — 1. (tie) Hayley Kottka (Union County) 8.7; 1. (tie) Tatum Robertson (SHE) 8.7; 2. Katelyn Burris (C) 8.65; 3. (tie) Laila Fitzgerald (C) 8.6; 3. (tie) Braelyn Stacy (SHE) 8.6; 4. (tie) Whitney Owens (C) 8.4; 4. (tie) Jadelynn Noel (SHE) 8.4; 5. (tie) Kenzy Lynch (C) 8.35; 5. (tie) Breanna Heady (SW) 8.35; 6. Delaynee Hall. Other Connersville competitors: Allison Hoffman 8.2, Ali Sargent 8.0, Victoria Metcalfe 8.0.

Uneven bars — 1. Sargent 8.75; 2. Kottka 8.575; 3. Owens 8.525; 4. Hoffman 8.325; 5. Heady 7.675; 6. Hall 7.525. Other Connersville competitors: Metcalfe 7.425, Karly Tracy 6.7, Hailey McCord 5.1.

Balance beam — 1. Hoffman 8.325; 2. Sargent 7.825; 3. Robertson 7.6; 4. Owens 7.4; 5. Kottka 7.375; 6. Noel 7.225. Other Connersville competitors: Tracy 7.1, Hall 6.85, Lynch 5.4, Mary Willett 3.525.

Floor exercise — 1. Owens 9.15; 2. Sargent 8.725; 3. Lynch 8.625; 4. Hoffman 8.55; 5. (tie) Metcalfe 8.3; 5. (tie) Fitzgerald 8.3; 6. Emily Hicks (SHE) 8.275. Other Connersville competitors: Hall 8.175, Tracy 7.9, Hailey McCord 7.375.

All-Around — 1. Owens 33.475; 2. Hoffman 33.40; 3. Sargent 33.3; 4. Kottka 32.6; 5. Hall 30.85; 6. Stacy 30.15.