CONNERSVILLE — For the second straight year, the New Palestine gymnastics program produced the top individual sectional performer.
Kate Fee won the all-around title for the Dragons on Saturday at Connersville.
The junior, though, wasn’t necessarily aiming to repeat the 2013 all-around victory of former teammate, Kenzi Hoffman.
“I didn’t really come in expecting to win, I just wanted to do my best, see what happened,” said Fee, who posted a 36.175 to edge Richmond’s Chasity Wampler (35.850). “I had goals and I wanted to reach them, I didn’t really care if it was first or last.
“I wanted to get top six. I didn’t know if I was going to win or not.”
Last season, then-senior Hoffman guided the Dragons to a team sectional title. The 2014 group came up short Saturday, finishing second in the final standings with 102 points. The top three squads from each of the state’s sectionals advanced to the regional level, however, so New Palestine will compete Friday at Columbus East (7 p.m.) in hopes of advancing to the State Finals.
Host Connersville won the team title Saturday with 105.425 points. New Castle took third with a 100.475.
The Dragons traveled to Fayette County with hopes of knocking off 12th-ranked Connersville. It’s a goal they’ll take with them to Columbus.
“We had a decent meet, but we had a lot of room that we could have improved, so if we hit next week and they don’t … it’s anybody’s game at that point,” NP coach Jenny Musselman said. “You can’t count us out, that’s for sure.”
With a four-gymnast total score of 26.450, the Dragons posted the best sectional aggregate on the floor exercise and were second behind Richmond on vault (26.700) and balance beam (25.075). Their uneven bars score of 23.775 was third best, well behind Richmond’s 26.150.
The top three of six teams at the regional will make it to Ball State for the State Finals, March 22. Also at Columbus on Friday will be the top three squads from Saturday’s Sectional at East — No. 6 Columbus North (109.750), No. 13 Bloomington South (105.450) and the host No. 10 Olympians (104.925).
Unranked New Palestine will likely need something in the 105-range (or higher) to secure a team state berth.
“I think if we have a really good meet and we’re on that day, I think we can have a 105,” said Fee, who had a first-place finish on the balance beam Saturday to go along with her all-around crown. “I think that’s realistic.
“State, that is the goal. I think it’s attainable. We just have to bring our A game.”
The top six individuals in each regional event will also qualify for the State Finals.
In addition to Fee’s first-place 9.275 on the beam, the Dragons’ ribbon collection Saturday included a blue for Kylie Zehner.
The senior posted a 9.175 in the floor exercise to top Hagerstown’s Madison Davis (8.950) and Fee (8.850).
An all-around performer this season, Zehner competed in only one sectional event a year ago. She took 11th place on the beam.
Zehner’s rise would make Bill Murray/Carl Spackler proud.
“It’s a Cinderella story,” Musselman said. “She didn’t come out as a freshman, she didn’t think she’d be good enough. She came out as a sophomore and wasn’t varsity. Came out last year and was varsity two events.
“So, this was nice for Kylie, and the whole team. Our team is so small and close … as long as there’s a New Pal girl on top, they’re pretty ecstatic over it.”
Zehner placed ninth in the all-around Saturday with a 33.050, while sophomore teammate Annabelle Dockins (32.300) was 11th.
Dockins grabbed sixth on the vault (8.950) to join Fee (fourth, 9.150) on the podium.
Freshman Rylee Elsea had a top finish of 13th on the beam (7.850) for the Dragons. Savannah Eldridge, a senior, was 29th on the bars (6.325).
Wampler, the Richmond senior, took both of the non-New Palestine championships Saturday with a 9.325 on the bars and 9.600 on the vault.
Team results (top three advance to regional)
1. Connersville 105.425; 2. New Palestine 102.000; 3. New Castle 100.475; 4. Hagerstown 98.025; 5. Richmond 94.700; 6. Shelbyville 90.100; 7. Muncie Central 89.650; 8. Rushville 86.875; 9. Cambridge City Lincoln 76.375; 10. Morristown 34.400; 11. Cowan 30.125; 12. Muncie Southside 11.750.
Individual results (top six finishers in all events, plus the all-around, advance to regional)
All-Around 1. Fee (New Palestine) 36.175; 2. Wampler (Richmond) 35.850; 3. Elleman (Connersville) 35.800; 4. Schutt (Connersville) 35.500; 5. Cochran (New Castle) 35.100; 6. M. Davis (Hagerstown) 34.300.
Vault 1. Wampler (Richmond) 9.600; 2. Elleman (Connersville) 9.250; 3. Cochran (New Castle) 9.225; 4. Fee (New Palestine) 9.150; 5. Stine (Connersville) 9.050; 6. Dockins (New Palestine) 8.950.
Bars 1. Wampler (Richmond) 9.325; 2. Schutt (Connersville) 9.100; 3. Elleman (Connersville) 8.925; 4. Fee (New Palestine) 8.900; 5. Cochran (New Castle) 8.400; 6. M. Davis (Hagerstown) 8.250.
Beam 1. Fee (New Palestine) 9.275; 2. Cochran (New Castle) 8.900; 3. Schutt (Connersville) 8.800; 4. Elleman (Connersville) 8.775; 5. M. Davis (Hagerstown) 8.450; 6. Wampler (Richmond) 8.325.
Floor 1. Zehner (New Palestine) 9.175; 2. M. Davis (Hagerstown) 8.950; 3. Fee (New Palestine) 8.850; 4. Elleman (Connersville) 8.850; 5. Schutt (Connersville) 8.800; 6. Fohl (Connersville) 8.725.