SYRACUSE – She’s raised the bar for herself and the future of the Wawasee gymnastics program. After a decade of ‘close’ and ‘almost’, Reagan Atwood and her Wawasee teammates are changing the culture of what’s to be expected.
Atwood didn’t come out of nowhere last year, having already established herself as a sophomore, then posting some huge numbers as a junior. A 9.7 on the floor in the dual against Warsaw was one of the bests scores Wawasee had ever seen from an individual, going back to some of the best names in Indiana High School gymnastics including Tracy Rinker, Jenny Cox and Lindsay Olson.
Her assault on the floor and accompanying apparatuses, along with the rapidly developing all-around game from Jada Parzygnot, gave Wawasee a formidable one-two punch. Fold in the improved health of Alyssa Minnix and year of experience of Aundreya Wegener. Has the accelerated pace inhibited the mission of this season?
“I’m not used to being talked about,” said the senior Atwood, who competed on the regional level cross country team. “It’s weird sometimes going home and thinking about it for gymnastics. It’s strange changing from cross to gymnastics, because it is different. I try to not let it affect my emotions because little things can get to me, and that could affect my performances. Sometimes it’s just easier to not think about it. I don’t like to talk about myself in gymnastics. I’d rather just keep it down low and mellow, just do my job.”
Atwood reached the IHSAA State Finals last year on floor after taking fourth at regionals with a 9.325. Her 9.7 on floor during the regular season had her ranked in the top five in the state in the event, ultimately scoring 9.125 in the finals, tied for 20th.
Atwood admits her routines likely won’t change much, but is looking to incorporate a few wrinkles to spice up the show and hopefully get her to that next level.
“I think it really helps that Jada is scoring really well,” Atwood said. “It pushes me knowing she is scoring so well, in a good, competitive way. I think the pressure of adding in new skills and not having the same routines is the biggest thing for me, and I know Jada is stepping it up, too. I only went to state in one event, and obviously I want to get there in all-around, and want to see my team there, too. Not just me competing by myself.”
Parzygnot was chosen as an all-around alternate at the state finals, and while her scores were not officially tabulated as part of the scoring meet, her opportunity to work an extra week on the big stage at Ball State was one the Wawasee program heartily welcomed. Her artistry in the air is worth watching, and her competitive drive to succeed puts her in the elite categories Atwood has attained.
Minnix, a junior, and Wegener, a sophomore, give Wawasee a very solid third and fourth all-around lineup. But in the event of a substitution, which happened when Minnix missed part of last year with a concussion, or an inevitable injury pops up, Wawasee head coach Nika Prather does have options. Just not as many as she’s used to having.
Seniors Meghan Beer and Katelyn Baker return, Beer likely limited to just two events with a balky knee and Baker still finding her way but fully capable of competing at a varsity level. Sophomore Lila Gregory is new to high school gymnastics but competed growing up and freshman Alyssa Schlabach also has prior experience but neither are expected to step in as prime-time performers right away.
“We only have eight total, that’s it,” noted Prather. “We only need three to score, but I also know when someone gets hurt, there isn’t a lot to choose from to replace. So we will need the girls to be ready to go on just about everything.”
Wawasee opens Dec. 16 at the LaPorte Pairs.