PLYMOUTH — Wawasee gymnastics won itself some hardware at the Plymouth Invitational Saturday. It just wasn’t the trophy the Lady Warriors wanted.
Wawasee put up a very solid 102.475 team score for third place at the 11-team meet behind runner-up Angola and meet champion Dekalb, which finished with respective scores of 104 and 104.425. Warsaw finished a little over a point behind Wawasee with a 101.150 score for fourth place, meanwhile.
Warriors coach Nika Prather wasn’t unhappy with the result exactly, but she would’ve preferred a finish ahead of those sectional-rival Barons and Hornets. And she knows her team is capable, too.
“Coming in, we honestly knew if we hit all four events we could win. We’ve won it in the past a couple times and just knew if we had consistent events that we had an opportunity,” explained Prather. “We did know with DeKalb here and Angola here that we were going to have some really tough competition. Angola has actually already beaten us twice, but it’s been close. The last time it was one-point-something. And we knew where our problem would probably lie with the balance beam. That was our last event, and that’s where our problems showed up.”
The Warriors did place a pair of gymnasts in the top 10 in their final rotation as Aundreya Wegener scored 8.895 for fourth place on the beam, and Jada Parzygnot managed salvaged an 8.5 to finish in a tie for ninth place with Warsaw’s Anna Wainscott. Freshman Talia Kuhl’s no-fall routine earned her an 8.350 on the apparatus as Alyssa Minnix recorded an uncharacteristic 7.950.
“We’re just so inconsistent. Last week Alyssa Minnix nailed everything, and this time she had a couple falls,” said Prather. “And Jada and Aundreya both, very uncharacteristic for them to fall on the things they fell on, so that’s kind of surprising. Luckily, our freshman, Talia Kuhl, stayed on, and she’s the one who usually falls and gets so frustrated. So that helped a lot because her score counted toward our team score.”
Parzygnot’s 8.5 finish on beam came despite not one but two falls in the event. Her best result came on the floor, where her 9.275 earned her the blue ribbon ahead of Wegener’s fourth-place score of 9.0. Parzygnot tied for sixth on vault with an 8.6, and she scored 8.2 for eighth place on bars behind teammate Minnix and her 8.95 score, which was good enough for second place in the event. In total, Parzygnot accumulated a score of 34.575 in the all-around, finishing in fifth place overall. Minnix and Wegener put up identical 33.75 scores to tie for eighth in the all-around competition.
“That’s one of those things where you know if she would’ve hit (on beam), she could win (the all-around),” said Prather of Parzygnot. “She did win the all-around this week, and she has won floor the last couple times so that was good. But she gets so frustrated because on beam she fell twice, and that’s a point. She’s like ‘I would’ve had 9.5.’ Same on bars. She’s just getting frustrated, but she has the potential — as does Alyssa, as does Aundreya — to have state-level routines on one or more events.”
It wasn’t quite the finish Prather would’ve liked to see, but Saturday’s score was still a big step forward for Wawasee, which has shown steady improvement since opening its season with a third-place finish at the Blazer Invite back on Dec. 29. The Warriors scored a 96.5 there, put up a 100.35 in their dual meet-opener at Angola Tuesday, then scored a 100.825 at Fort Wayne Carrol Thursday. And that improvement of better than one-and-a-half points came despite a grueling schedule of three meets within the span of a week.
“This is our third meet this week, so that makes a difference,” Prather explained. “I think it showed up here. We were away at Angola Tuesday night and away at Fort Wayne Thursday night. Going into today, the girls were tired. Not that that’s an excuse, but they were tired and kind of beat up. Their knees, their ankles, and that probably had something to do with it. Third place is good, but it’s not where we’re wanting to be. We wanted to be up there higher.”
Warsaw’s fourth-place finish was also a step in the right direction in just the Tigers’ second meet of the season following their opener at East Noble Tuesday. Warsaw’s gymnasts put up a 97.6 there, and Saturday’s score represented a whopping improvement of more than three points just four days later.
“We started on Tuesday, and I saw huge improvements from Tuesday so I’m very pleased with today,” said head coach Tonya Douglass. “We still have a few areas to work on, and we still have some skills we’re not throwing yet because we’re not quite ready to so I’m hoping in the next couple weeks we can start throwing those skills. But overall we were clean and pretty consistent today.”
While Wawasee gymnasts struggled uncharacteristically in their final event, Warsaw’s athletes saved their best performance for the beam.
Three Tigers recorded no-fall routines, led by Remi Beckham’s second-place score of 9.05 and Wainscott’s 8.5 alongside Parzygnot. Adree Beckham put up an 8.150 on the apparatus, meanwhile.
Warsaw struggled somewhat in its opening rotation on the floor, however, Remi’s 8.875 earning her fifth place there, and Daylen Turner’s 8.45 netting her 10th in the event.
“We did pretty well on beam today. I had three out of the four stay on the beam, which is huge,” said Douglass. “Usually floor is one of our stronger ones. It was a little weaker today. We started on floor and we downgraded a little bit just because the floor is not as springy here as most floors, so we did downgrade a few skills just for safety reasons.”
Three gymnasts placed in the top 10 in the vault for Warsaw as Remi scored an 8.75 for fourth, and Adree and Turner both put up 8.5 routines to tie for ninth place. Remi was the Tigers’ only top 10 finisher on bars with an 8.5 there, and her all-around total of 35.175 earned her second-place overall, just .025 of a point behind Angola all-around champ Emma Schoenherr.
“Actually, all the girls stepped up in one place or another,” Douglass explained. “They’re great girls. They work hard. They support each other, and I think they all stepped up where they needed to, so I’m very pleased with that.”
Saturday’s invitational was one of several measuring stick meets for both Warsaw and Wawasee, which will ultimately face each other at the Wawasee Sectional next month. Also in that field will be Angola, DeKalb, John Glenn, Bremen, Plymouth, West Noble, Westview and Lakeland, all of whom were present in Plymouth.
“This was a great meet to kind of see where everybody is at. We’ll see pretty much everybody again at the Lakeland Invite, which is the first weekend of February, so we’ll kind of see who’s kind of throwing new things and where they’re at,” Douglass said. “This is a great meet to kind of gauge where everybody is at at the beginning of the season and then to kind of see everybody grow throughout the season. It’s a good way to kind of see where we stand at least of right now.”
Wawasee and Warsaw gymnastics will both be back in action Tuesday when the Warriors host West Noble, and the Tigers host Homestead.