LIGONIER — The Wawasee Warrior gymnastics team competed in its final meet of the regular season Monday night in Ligonier, defeating West Noble 93.55-79.75. The victory helped the Warriors end their season on a high note in picking up its fourth win, just not as high as they had wanted heading into Saturday’s sectional.
“I think it was a pitiful warmup for sectionals and I think that we don’t look like we’re at all ready for Saturday,” expressed a displeased Warrior head coach Nika Prather on the team’s performance.
“I don’t know what has to happen, I don’t know what we have to do because Sarah (Wegener) and I feel like we’ve said it all and now it’s up to the girls,” Prather continued.
The routines for Wawasee were just not on par with what fans are used to seeing. There were no major mistakes, just small miscues and mental mistakes that kept the Warriors from getting higher scores. Despite the bumps along the way, Wawasee would still dominate taking first place in three of the four events on the night.
The night started on the uneven bars for Wawasee where the Warriors would take the top three spots. It was Taylor Busse who claimed first place honors as the sophomore posted a score of 7.7. Wawasee’s Emily Allen and Molly Smith would place second and third, respectively. The event was the most lopsided on the night as the Warriors outscored the Chargers, 20.8-14.95, despite the Warriors only having four gymnasts competing to West Noble’s five.
On vault it was West Noble’s Audrie Ritchie that took the top spot with a score of 8.4. Busse and Allen would end up in a tie for second place as both posted scores of 8.2. The first vault for Busse was what gave her the great score and did not got unnoticed by Prather.
“Taylor did great tonight. Her first vault was really good. I told her it was the best I had seen her do, ever,” Prather said.
For the floor routine Wawasee senior Kim Garber made the most of her final regular season meet as she posted an 8.65, good enough for first place.
Despite taking three of the top five spots in the floor routine, it was clear from the stands that the Warriors were missing too many connections on the floor, something that has to be changed if the team wants to advance on Saturday.
But as disappointing as the floor routine was in some spots, the balance beam proved to be Wawasee’s Achilles’ heel yet again. All season the Warriors have struggled to remain poised and confident on the beam and tonight, the lack of confidence really showed.
Busse was the lone bright spot on the beam as she did not fall once and would take first place with a score of 8.15. Untimely falls kept scores down for Wawasee’s other four competitors. Allen would finish in second with a 7.9 while Garber placed third with a 7.6.
“It was the most disappointing event tonight and has been all season,“ Prather said of the beam. “We can turn around and practice great and even look good in warmups before competition. But for some reason they are too tentative. They’re so worried about falling that they fall, and I don’t know why they lack such confidence.”
The coach would continue, “ We need the power of positive thinking. Instead of thinking ‘I’m going to fall, I can’t do this,’ we need to be thinking ‘I’ve got this, I can do this and I’m not going to fall.’ And we preach that to the girls.”
The model of consistency on the night for Wawasee was Allen, the junior finished second in all events and took second in all-around with a score of 30.95. Busse claimed first in all-around with a score of 31.85.
The upcoming week will be both mentally and physically tough for the Warriors as they look to be on the top of their games for Saturday. Prather was not afraid to admit that she will welcome any kind of assistance this week.
“Maybe the fairy godmother of gymnastics will come into the gym this week because we need some bippity boppity boo,” Prather said with a laugh and a smile.
The sectional meet starts at 11 a.m. in the annex gym at Wawasee High School.
In the junior varsity meet Wawasee’s JV won 58.1-17.95 over West Noble’s JV. Vault was the stand-out event for the JV Warriors as Taylor Heck and Michaela Herendeen tied for first with a score of 7.6.