SYRACUSE – It’s T-minus 11 days and counting until sectionals fall upon the area gymnasts. Tuesday’s dual between Wawasee sectional contenders Plymouth and the host Lady Warriors showcased what could be to come, but also left a lot to be answered in a 99.875-97.625 Plymouth team victory.
After Plymouth’s team triumph at the Lafayette Jeff Broncho Invite just three days prior, a new set of interest levels emerged for Wawasee to worry about as Plymouth has showcased itself as a legit contender to vie for the sectional crown next weekend. With its two stars in full force in Nicky Davis and Cassi Quissell, Wawasee head coach Nika Prather’s team saw exactly what to expect. And Plymouth’s duo didn’t disappoint.
Quissell was first on three apparatus Tuesday night, the unquestioned best on the bars (8.95), beam (8.5) and tied Wawasee’s Emily Allen on floor at 9.15. Quissell was also first in the all-around scoring at 35.4 and second on vault at 8.8, only topped by Davis’ mark of 9.1. Davis finished third on bars (7.85) and beam (8.05) and concluded her all-around at 33.65, a touch behind Allen’s 33.675.
“The 97.625 is the best we have scored this year, and that was a huge boost for us,” Prather said. “We lost, but we gained a lot. There is a confidence that can be gained by trailing a team like that by only two points. We can clean several things up, and the girls know that. And having sectionals here, in our home gym, should only help with the nerves that come with the tournament.”
Allen again did most of the heavy lifting for Wawasee, adding an 8.35 on beam for second place and 8.5 on vault for third place to go with her floor routine. Taylor Busse added an 8.025 on bars to take second overall, but again was limited due to her sore ankle. Prather is hoping Busse can be ready for all-around by sectional, but is hesitantly letting time heal the injury. Busse gave beam a try Tuesday night and looked rusty in a 6.5, ninth-place mark.
Where Wawasee could struggle is making up ground from a host of teams in the tournament that can provide a third big score. Inconsistency has been a killer for Wawasee in trying to break over the 95-point hump, but having Busse back should help matters. But in the case of Plymouth, Karly Gruett scored an 8.7 on floor for third place and put together a 28.9 all-around tally, formidable enough.
Wawasee’s best scores outside of Allen and Busse Tuesday were an 8.35 on vault from Ashleigh Frecker and a trio of scores from Molly Smith of 7.825 on bars, 7.725 on beam and 8.6 on floor. The bars score was a career-best from Smith.
Knowing most of the contending teams in the sectional have two solid scores and a capable third, Prather needs a third scorer, and was hoping one would emerge Tuesday. Yes, and no, according to the head coach.
“On any given day, one person will hit a beam routine that has never hit one before. The next day, they fall five times and can’t keep it together,” Prather exchanged about her team’s inconsistency this season. “That happens on the vault. We saw it on the bars tonight. The floor the same thing. Sarah (Wegener, assistant coach) and I have struggled to put together a confident sectional lineup. We might just have to patch something together and hope it works.”
The Lady Warrior JV put together a 62.8-34.45 win over Plymouth. Haleigh Smarr led the field on vault at 7.9, Autumn Yoder the beam at 6.725 and Frecker the floor at 7.65.
Wawasee’s final regular season meet will come Monday at home against West Noble, yet another sectional opponent.
The Wawasee Gymnastics Sectional will take place March 8 in the Wawasee annex gym and will feature teams from Angola, DeKalb, East Noble, Elkhart Central, Lakeland, Plymouth, Warsaw, Wawasee and West Noble. Individuals from Hamilton, Prairie Heights and Westview are also scheduled to compete.