SYRACUSE — Tuesday night wasn’t a banner showing for either Warsaw or Wawasee in gymnastics, but as both teams prep for a huge invitational next weekend, work is work.
Warsaw used a solid all-around effort from Abbi Baum and a set of complimentary scores from Jo Richard to beat a short-handed Wawasee team 93.35-90.9.
Baum led all competitors on the bars, swinging to an 8.05 top score while tying Wawasee’s Emily Allen for second on vault with an 8.5 and taking runner-up on the floor with an 8.7. Baum’s first attempt on the vault actually posted an 8.6, but the second attempt at 8.4 split the difference of the somersaulting approach to the apparatus.
The 32.85 all-around tally from the Warsaw junior led the group, almost a full point ahead of Allen.
“Abbi is still starting to pull away,” said Warsaw head coach Andi Calhoun. “She still has some tricks up her sleeve that she’ll try Thursday.”
Richard posted the top beam routine of the night, scoring an 8.0 in what was a wobbly event for most everyone else as Allen chimed in at 7.7 and Baum 7.6. Wawasee’s Molly Smith, who completed her first no-fall routine of the season, still fell back to fourth at 7.4.
Richard tossed in Warsaw’s only other top-three score of the night with a 7.15, third-place bars score but still completed her night with 30.6 all-around points, good for third overall but huge for a Warsaw side that needed a second score.
Wawasee, which were missing Taylor Busse to a stiff neck, did have a pair of top scores in Smith’s 8.55 on vault, a first-time winner in the category, and Kim Garber continued to sharpen her floor routine with an 8.75.
“We really felt like we could have beaten Warsaw,” Wawasee head coach Nika Prather said. “With Taylor’s scores out, we knew it would be tough, but we had hoped to see some kids step up.
“Molly Smith had a no-fall beam routine and won the vault, so I was really happy that she had a good night. She has come along really nicely in the past couple weeks for us.”
Tippecanoe Valley’s Barbie Kimmel participated in the meet in all four events, but her scores were not officially recorded and reported being scored as an exhibition gymnast. Kimmel, who practices and competes with Warsaw but is also a diver for the Valley swim team, will be eligible to compete in the Wawasee Sectional in March as an individual.
“Barbie is improving a lot,” Cindy Kimmel said, serving as Barbie’s coach. “She was just going to compete on beam, but decided in October it’s her senior year and she didn’t want to give it up just on one event. So she decided to do all-around, even though she took off a couple months from the other events in practice.”
Both teams leave Tuesday’s meet one more day experienced, but face tough opponents in home meets Thursday as Warsaw hosts Huntington North and Wawasee welcomes in Lakeland. The Lakers will return favor on Feb. 2 by bringing in both Warsaw and Wawasee for the Lakeland Invite, which is a circle date on the calendar for all three teams teams. The Lakeland Invite hosts nearly every team from the Wawasee Sectional in what becomes a dress rehearsal and meter stick all in one.
“It’s one of the big ones circled on our calendar,” Calhoun said of the Lakeland Invite. “That will be another eye opener. I really think that will let the girls know just what they need to do for sectionals.”
“I know the Invite is a midway point of the season, but I don’t necessarily look at it as a midway marker for us,” Prather said. “I’m hoping we make improvements along the way, but we peak around the Huntington North meet (Feb. 14). We have just a couple meets after that before sectionals, and that is where I hope the girls are sharp and throwing some of the tougher skills.”