SYRACUSE – It’s been a busy week at Wawasee High School. The boys basketball sectional has been roaring Tuesday and Wednesday nights in the spectator gym and will only keep the kettle whistling Friday and Saturday when rivals West Noble and Fairfield along with NorthWood and Tippecanoe Valley meet for hardwood bragging rights.
While the spectator gym will have its share of moments of glory Saturday, to the western end of the school in the annex gym, a collection of gymnasts will take their shots at making a little history of their own.
The Wawasee Gymnastics Sectional will get underway at 11 a.m. Saturday where nine teams along with individuals from Hamilton, Prairie Heights and Westview will give it their best to carve their niche into the sectional history books. The top three teams along with the top six individuals regardless of team standing will advance to the Huntington North Regional March 14.
Given the run of play this season, over half the Wawasee field are in play to take one of the three spots for the regional. DeKalb and Plymouth will likely take two of those spots, with the Barons having scored over 104 points this season and Plymouth notching 103 just two weeks ago at the Lafayette Jeff Broncho Invite. Both Lakeland and Elkhart Central have hovered near 100 points at times this season while East Noble and Wawasee have approached the century mark.
Wawasee’s best team score, 97.625, came just over a week ago against Plymouth on its home equipment, but stumbled to score just 95.65 points Monday in its final regular season meet against visiting West Noble. To boot, star junior Taylor Busse has been hampered by sore ankles all season and likely will be limited, at best, to perform Saturday.
The hopes of a team advancement for Wawasee may be a bit of a reach, but senior Emily Allen has more than enough capability to advance as an individual. Allen, who has ramped up performances as the season progressed, is among what has become a talent-rich sectional pool. Allen has scored routinely in the nines on floor and the high eights on vault and beam, and putting together an all-around mark that could be the ticket to Huntington.
Wawasee will likely lean on junior Molly Smith as well as a mash up of support from the likes of junior Deea Coy, sophomore Ashleigh Frecker and freshmen Haleigh Smarr and Jade Skelton to fill gaps in each event.
“This sectional is very strong with all the individuals that are going to compete here,” said Wawasee head coach Nika Prather. “We have a lot of potential to do great things, but we haven’t really put it all together all at the same time. We had a great meet against Plymouth even with Taylor (Busse) not at full strength, and then we went out and looked horrible (against West Noble). It’s anybody’s guess what will happen this weekend.”
Warsaw in all likelihood doesn’t have the horses to keep up with the frontrunners in the team competition, but has a handful of individuals that could contend for an advancing spot in single events.
Junior Shannon Winslow has emerged as the lead gymnast for Warsaw, posting top scores routinely for the Tigers in dual meets this season. Along with Winslow are classmates Katie Richard and Kristen Holladay along with senior Molly Borchers.
The grouping of individuals for the sectional include some of the top gymnasts in the state. Angola’s Alex Nickel is a multiple state champion and figures to contend for state glory once again in her senior year. Hamilton’s Alex Cool has also made waves at state in her four years, and should contend again with one of the top all-around scores in the state this season at 37.675. The Gibson sisters from DeKalb, Haley and Riley, along with Caitlin Marlow have the Barons with three capable options.
Plymouth’s Cassi Quissell and Nicole Davis are both posting consistent scores to give Pilgrims a very formidable one-two punch. Quissell could surprise at the sectional with routines that can stand up with Nickel and Cool if executed perfectly.
Lakeland should also be considered as a team that could steal one of the three advancers, with Caitlin Yoder and Sam Gieseking both working at high levels this season.
Looking forward to the Huntington North Regional, where everyone from the Wawasee Sectional is breathing a small sigh of relief not having to go to Valparaiso this year, the hosts and three Fort Wayne schools should present enough problems. Huntington North and Homestead are both scoring around 100 points per meet this season while Fort Wayne Carroll and Fort Wayne Dwenger are both at another level. Dwenger, which finished third last year at the state finals and are ranked No. 2 this season behind Valparaiso, feature a roster full of studs including Maria Trahin and Alena Chillian.