SYRACUSE — This point of the calendar in high school sports often finds coaches completely stressed out. It’s easy to see why basketball coaches around the state are hitting the Maalox. Well, gymnastics coaches are feeling the pinch, too.
As Wawasee head coach Nika Prather paced the annex gym Tuesday night following her team’s 100.675-96.1 loss to Plymouth, it was all about missed tenths, missed skills and missed opportunities.
“It’s like every time we say, ‘Just think, if you wouldn’t have missed this, you would have had…if you would have hit this, you would have had,” started Prather. “We know how capable we are. We know how easily it can be fixed. But then doing it is the problem.”
Plymouth’s formidable pair of aces in Nicky Davis and Cassi Quissell did all the heavy lifting, taking first and second place in three of the four events as well as the all-around. Davis was first on the vault at 8.9 and was second on everything else, going 8.1 on bars, 8.65 on beam and 8.95 on beam to pile up a 34.6 all-around tally. Quissell was just as good, landing at 8.8 on vault, hoisted 8.5 on bars and 9.15 on beam for top honors and 8.9 on floor, which was just third place, but built a 35.35 to lead all competitors.
Teammate Traci Longanecker took fourth on vault (8.4) and beam (7.5) to aid Plymouth’s cause.
“I think we did OK, but we still need to get a little better at some things,” said Plymouth head coach Tony McPherron. “Nicky and Cassie both started at 10.0 start values on a couple of their routines, so we don’t need to add things, we just need to refine them. We had some bobbles and a couple mistakes, but I am pretty pleased with tonight.”
Meanwhile, Prather watched as her team gave away points in several areas against a direct sectional competitor posting scores on the same equipment that will be used in the Wawasee Sectional on March 2.
Wawasee had over two dozen falls on beam, half of which came from its varsity competitors, and scored just 22.45 points as a team compared to the 25.3 Plymouth scored. The best Lady Warrior score on the apparatus came from Emily Allen at 7.85, who was victim to a pair of those falls.
The top effort for Wawasee came from Kim Garber, who beat everyone on floor with a 9.2. Wawasee also recorded a pair of third-place scores. Ashleigh Frecker had one of them in a continued ascent on vault for the freshman, scoring an 8.5, and Taylor Busse led a considerably better effort from the black-clad gymnasts with a 7.95 on bars.
As Prather looked to the annex rafters, she uttered, “It looks like these small things are easily attained goals, but we focus on one thing and then something else is missed. I just hope and pray for the next 10 days we can really clean up everything and have the best meet of the season at sectionals.
“It has happened before. Why not this year?”
But while the ribbons were dealt to Wawasee gymnasts for top-four spots, it was the missed connections on floor and the egg cartons of errors on beam that held Prather’s attention.
“Each girl is going to have a little list of things that they themselves are responsible for making sure they hit,” said Prather for the final season meet at West Noble next Monday. “Hopefully, if they do that, then I would love to get a 100, just four points away.”
Plymouth, which have topped Wawasee on three different occasions this season after Tuesday’s head-to-head result, are hoping the results from Longanecker and Karly Gurett as its fourth will take effect at the sectional.
“About two weeks ago, I looked at our two number-three girls, Traci and Karly, and told them our season depends on you two girls,” McPherron said. “Nicky and Cassi are steady and will be in the that 34-36 point range. We can’t win with a 27 from our number three. We need 31s from them.”
Wawasee will conclude its regular season Monday night when it makes the annual late-season visit to West Noble’s middle school gym to face the Lady Chargers. The Wawasee Sectional will begin at 11 a.m. on March 2 in the WHS annex gym.