SYRACUSE – You could hear a pin drop, feel the pain of every tear, see the agony cut the Wawasee annex gym right in half.
Heading into the floor down less than a point, things looked up for the host Warriors to pull off the upset, getting that team title its coveted for over a decade. Then, almost like Elkhart Central head coach Kathy Krauter had the disaster button, the unthinkable happened. The final event for Wawasee, floor, which it has excelled all season, was an utter disaster as three of its four competitors had major, costly errors that took them out of the title chase in shocking fashion.
Central, which hit big scores on its final event – vault – sprinted to the finish for a championship 107.2 while Wawasee scratched out a 25.425 on floor and settled for a 104.525. Still second place and an automatic ticket for the regional round next Saturday at Huntington North, but the hosts weren’t in much of a celebrating mood.
“I knew Central ending on vault, they were going to pull huge scores,” Wawasee head coach Nika Prather said. “For us to make up a lot of ground on them with floor scores, we likely were only going to be able to draw even. I knew we had done pretty well, and assumed they had too.
“I can’t explain what happened so I don’t know how to fix it,” continued Prather. “Alyssa (Minnix) falling and getting hurt, I don’t know if that rattled the others. We were ending with our best event, so I don’t think they were anxious, and I know they planned on doing well. They better have. We did full routines at practice and were doing fine. Jada and Reagan did their passes and finished them.
“So, Drey (Aundreya Wegener) hits her routine and I felt like we were on our way. I have no idea what happened after that.”
Central, which trailed Wawasee by .475 at the turn, used a huge 27.45 on floor in its third rotation to claim a .60 lead at 79.7-79.1 after Wawasee posted its 26.375 on beam. Despite the shift in scores, Wawasee was feeling very good about its chances after its beam heading into its showcase for floor. But as first runner Alyssa Minnix got out too far in front of herself on her first pass, buckled her ankle, and went flying off the floor, suddenly Wawasee was up against it. Aundreya Wegener stepped up, scoring an 8.775 to keep Wawasee alive. With its two aces, Jada Parzygnot and Reagan Atwood, on deck, prospects looked good until Parzygnot inexplicably stumbled on a tumbling pass and virtually stopped dead in her tracks. Atwood, who started out hot in her show, had a stumble on a connector that turned into a fall on a pass.
As a stunned Wawasee camp looked on, Prather with her hands glued to the top of her head, Central had assembled in the opposite corner of the floor and were equally shocked. Parzygnot, who has been a plus-nine scorer on floor, got just an 8.175 and Atwood, who has posted top-20 state floor scores this season, was just at 8.475 to put Wawasee at a scant 25.425 while Central rung up a 27.5 vault line to draw a shocking conclusion.
“We knew we had to hit our vaults and it would be close, super close,” Krauter said, clutching the sectional trophy, her seventh in 12 years. “We did really well on bars. Beam we had problems but they still stepped up. Vault just saw us come together. This was a tough one to win today.”
To put it on just the floor would discredit Central, who had all three of its vaulters over nine. Analena VanderZwaag was outstanding, scoring 9.325 to win the event, with Skiler Reveal at 9.1 for third place and an ill Rylee Damewood with a key third score of 9.075. VanderZwaag was the only performer on bars to go over nine with her 9.3 and Reveal kept Central going on its beam showing with a 9.2. Reveal was second on floor at 9.375 with VanderZwaag right behind at 9.3, and the two were one-two in all-around scoring, VanderZwaag at 36.775 and Reveal at 36.225.
Central, which had its week interrupted by serious flooding on the school campus and all over Elkhart County, didn’t have its facility off Industrial Drive east of campus take on any additional water. Krauter could only thank her lucky stars for the blessing.
“We were able to practice in the morning which helped us, that allowed us to prep and practice, then get the kids home for the rest of the day,” Krauter said. “We just feel bad for all of the people that had it way worse than us. We didn’t have water damage. Some of the Central families had houses destroyed. Especially those living near the river and downtown.”
The floor aside, Wawasee was having a big day and will still have reason to work out the kinks this week. Atwood won beam with a 9.325, was second on vault at 9.275 and fourth on bars at 8.6. Parzygnot was second on bars at 8.75, fourth on beam at 9.025 and sixth on vault at 8.95. Katelyn Baker scored her best vault total of the year at 8.7 and Minnix was seventh on bars at 8.45.
Warsaw didn’t quite get to where it wanted to be in chasing the third team spot. The Tigers, which shot for and hit the 100-point team total midseason and stayed pat, wasn’t able to eclipse the century mark with its 99.525 and placed fifth behind East Noble’s 101.2 and DeKalb’s 103.95, the Barons pulling the third automatic ticket to Huntington next weekend. DeKalb’s Shiloh Miller won the floor event with a 9.575.
The lone Warsaw athlete to break through to regionals was Remi Beckham, who used her high-flying beam routine to score an 8.9 for fifth place. The top six individuals in each event automatically qualify for the next round. Beckham had the highest figures for Warsaw in the remaining events, placing 11th on vault (8.7), ninth on bars (8.35) and 11th on floor (8.85). Kid sister Adree Beckham was Warsaw’s other all-arounder, finishing her first tournament at 31.975, her best mark an 8.5 on vault.
“It was definitely a very unique day across the board,” said Warsaw coach Tonya Douglass. “We had some errors, but I didn’t think our errors were major ones. Starting on beam wasn’t the most pleasant place to start, but we did OK and Remi got out on beam so that’s great.”
Joining the three teams at Huntington from the Wawasee sectional will be Fort Wayne Carroll, Fort Wayne Dwenger and Homestead from the Concordia sectional. The same criteria applies for the regional – top six placers and top three teams move onto the state finals March 10 at Ball State.