Coming to a Close: Dragons gymnasts fall to Flashes in close meet

NEW PALESTINE — Fourteen years later, Faith Land is counting down the days.

After pouring more than a decade’s worth of sweat into the sport of gymnastics, Land’s time spent competing at New Palestine is coming to a close. With just one meet left during the regular season, the Dragons hosted their final home meet Tuesday against Franklin Central.

Honoring Land and fellow senior Emily Heighway, New Palestine finished second behind the Flashes by the slimmest of margins. Franklin Central, led by all-around winner Khloe Dykes, won the meet with a score of 102.20. The Dragons were literally right behind them with a 102.10.

“We were fine tuning and practicing some new skills for the sectional,” New Palestine head coach Debbie Bruns said. “That was more of our focus for the meet, but we lost by one (missed) step.”

Heighway finished second in the all-around (35.125), while Land was third with a 33.95. The pair also coaches together as Gymnastics Unlimited, which will allow Land to stick around the sport while she attends IUPUI her freshman year. She plans to study sports medicine or a related field.

Land won the vault Tuesday with a final score of 9.25, beating Heighway, who was second, by five hundredths of a point. Land also finished fourth on the floor exercise with an 8.25 and was third on the balance beam with an 8.725. On the uneven bars, she was fifth with a 7.725.

“It was sad,” Land said of senior night. “It is really sad knowing that (my career) is almost over. Emily and I have been together our whole lives doing club and coaching.”

Heighway, who did not compete with the high school team as a junior, continued her impressive season with a second place finish on the floor exercise. She scored an 8.625 in her final event of the night.

On the balance, Heighway also finished second with a final tally of 9.35. She scored a 7.95 for third place on the uneven bars.

“I have coached them both in club and it was special (to see them on Senior Night),” Bruns said. “They have done a good job of taking over the leadership this year.”

Franklin Central’s Dykes also took first in the floor exercise (9.5), the balance beam (9.525) and the uneven bars (8.55).

Also for New Palestine, Bailey Watkins finished sixth overall in the all-around with a 30.8. She was sixth on the floor exercise. Grace Shanahan led the Dragons with a second place finish on the uneven bars. She tallied a score of 8.35.

New Palestine, which is now 10-2 in dual meets, will wrap up its regular season next Tuesday at Shelbyville.

The Dragons will compete in sectional action at Connersville next weekend on Feb. 25. New Palestine has already beat each team in its sectional and should be favored, according to Bruns.

“Now that we have put some of those more difficult skills in, now is the time to clean them up,” Bruns said.


Team Scores

Franklin Central – 102.20

New Palestine – 102.10


Khloe Dykes, FC – 36.375

Emily Heighway, NP – 35.125

Faith Land, NP – 33.95

Amani Khoury, FC – 32.975

Raigan Ward, FC – 31.125

Bailey Watkins, NP – 30.8

Author photo
Kris Mills is a sports reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. He can be reached at 317-477-3230 or