SYRACUSE – Home openers are generally a fun time for a team with decent expectations coming into a season. Wawasee fit that bill of expectation entering Tuesday’s meet given its showings at a pair of December invitationals and a star-studded returning roster. But that roster, however, was a lot slimmer for the home opener, and showed in a 102.475-100.275 win over Angola.
Missing three of its roster to various hangups and two others competing with injuries, Wawasee’s lineup looked and sounded more like something of a mid-February sectional prep. But when two of the active competitors are Reagan Atwood and Jada Parzygnot, Wawasee will have always have a chance.
Atwood was queen of the all-around Tuesday, scoring 35.5 to outgun Angola’s Emma Schoenherr’s 34.3 and Parzygnot’s 34.0. The two Wawasee competitors looked very strong on bars, Atwood at 8.5 and Parzygnot at 8.4 for the top two scores, Atwood then finishing strong with a beam of 8.9 and floor of 9.5, both top scores in the meet. Parzygnot was second on floor at 9.3.
In a dual setting, though, three scores are what makes up the team gathering, and Wawasee needed help where it could get it. On beam, it came from Meghan Beer, who was en route to a possible 9.0 until a late fall sent her to an eventual 8.35, but still second in the meet. Katelyn Baker gave Wawasee its third score on vault with an 8.45, which tied Parzygnot for fourth overall. Alyssa Minnix, as shaky as she was, still gutted out a 31.3 all-around figure after a self-described “horrible meet” after a fall-filled beam routine.
“We don’t know how hard to push them right now,” said Wawasee head coach Nika Prather. “We can’t really tell them, ‘do one more’ because of the risk for more injury if we push some of these injuries too hard. And the ones who are healthy, we can’t push them too much or tweak things too much. Getting someone like Aundreya Wegener back hopefully takes some of the stress off us right away, but coming back from a stress fracture in her back, we can’t push her too hard, either.”
Wawasee is missing Wegener with the stress fracture, which Prather said could be cleared as soon as Friday, as well as freshman Alyssa Schlabach to a concussion and sophomore Lila Gregory to a suspension. Minnix was working through an injured ankle and Beer a nagging leg injury among the walking wounded.
Angola, which hasn’t been the same team since the graduation of state beam champion Alex Nickel in 2014, showed signs its making a comeback. With the help of state finalist Alex Cool on its coaching staff, Angola showed it is preparing to make a run again. Schoenherr was the best in purple, and best on vault at 8.95, and was third on bars and beam. Emily Brace scored a 9.0 on floor to give Angola that second big scorer, but the squad didn’t have that third number to get over the top.
The win is nice for Prather, who was mildly surprised by her team’s higher-than-expected score, but the injuries and lack of hands on deck is a much greater concern with some immediate challenges in the near future. Those start Thursday when state power Fort Wayne Carroll comes to Wawasee, then the Lady Warriors travel to Plymouth Saturday for an 11-team invite.
“When you have three people on the floor and one misses, it makes a huge difference,” Prather said. “When you don’t have that fourth person who can score, you notice. That’s what we are looking at for Thursday’s meet, for Saturday’s invite, and who knows what else. I told the girls, this is it, you have to hit. We have nobody else to fall back on or depend on. You can only say those words, I just hope they take it to heart and work on it.”