SYRACUSE — Kim Garber will have to put on the performance of her life. But the Wawasee senior is more than ready.
Garber is the lone area gymnast competing at the Valparaiso Gymnastics Regional this Friday night, working her beloved floor routine. One full of attitude, grace and a lot of emotion. Getting at least one more chance thrilled Garber after being informed last Saturday at the Wawasee Gymnastics Sectional she had placed fifth and would move onto the regional round.
“I love my routine,” Garber said. “Last year I was uncomfortable doing it because I’m not a hip hop dancer and its more of a hip hop song. I just kind of had to adapt to it and do it anyways. I’ve practiced it over and over. I feel so good performing it.”
Four years of Garber tweaking the floor routine has culminated in five scores this season above a 9.0, apexing with a 9.4 in November’s season-opening LaPorte Pairs.
Garber, however, will not have the same luxury she had at Wawasee in posting an 8.8 early at the sectional, hoping a score like that will ride at Valpo.
Garber’s score at the Wawasee Sectional would not have cut the mustard. In fact, her score would have been 29th overall at the über-competitive Chesterton Sectional, which will bring its qualifiers to merge with Wawasee’s in Valparaiso Friday night. To put perspective into the matter, Valpo senior Morgan Algozine won floor at Chesterton with a 9.7, with runner-up Mackenzie Barcelli of Portage right behind at 9.675. Eight scores at Chesterton bested Garber’s career-high of 9.4.
“It’s great,” Garber said of making the regional. “Last year, I was just tenths away from making it so that made me more determined. I had to do the best I could do. I tried everything I could do for the routine, it’s really just up to the judges to score how they feel I did. There isn’t anything else I could do.”
Alex Nickel of Angola and Alex Cool of Hamilton each scored a 9.45 to share honors at Wawasee. Those scores would have tied for seventh at Chesterton, outside of the required top six.
Overviewing the rest of the Valpo Regional, Nickel does bring the second-best beam score to the regional with her 9.625, only trailing Barcelli’s 9.65. Four other competitors are within one point of Barcelli.
Algozine holds the top spot on bars and vault, with a 9.75 on the unevens and a huge 9.8 on vault. Morgan Township freshman Kylee Maxwell has a 9.625 on bars, Nickel a 9.55. Nickel is the defending state champion on both beam and bars.
Five other girls are in the running on vault, led by Algozine – the defending state champion on both vault and floor – followed by Portage’s Danielle Solis (9.775), Maxwell (9.75), Portage’s Madison Kurtz (9.55), Cool (9.55) and Nickel (9.5).
From the Wawasee Sectional, Angola, Plymouth and DeKalb have full teams participating in the regional.
Action starts at 6:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (5:30 p.m. CST) Friday night at Valparaiso High School. The top six athletes in each event and all-around as well as the top two teams will qualify for the IHSAA Gymnastics State Finals which will take place March 16 at Worthen Arena on the campus of Ball State University.