New Palestine junior suffers rare beam slip

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MUNCIE — Only 10 minutes into State Finals competition, Kate Fee’s chances of earning a gymnastics championship were, for all practical purposes, gone.

The plucky teenager, though, refused to go into a mental funk after falling off the balance beam — on which she was a pre-meet title contender — and finished the day all smiles.

Fee, a New Palestine junior, was tied for the top regional beam score (9.525) among all competitors entering the 42nd Annual IHSAA State Finals Saturday at Ball State’s Worthen Arena.

And a 9.525 was the exact score posted by Angola’s Alex Nickel Saturday to earn a place atop the beam podium.

Fee, who qualified for state in all four events, opened the meet on the beam, and she was the second overall competitor. She slipped while transitioning between skills, however, and came off the four-inch wide apparatus. Her final score of 8.5 landed a 34th place finish out of 48 girls.

“I kind of knew I was off on the switch leap before I even went for the tuck, so I knew the tuck was going to be off in the first place,” Fee said. “I landed and I was off to the side and I tried to fight it.”

The Dragons’ top tumbler rallied to post a 9.125 on the floor exercise, a 9.025 on the vault and — in her final event, nearly four hours post-beam — a career-best 9.025 on the uneven bars.

Fee finished with a total score of 35.675, good for 20th of 34 all-arounders. Had Fee compiled something in her routine range of 9.5 on the beam, she would have contended for a top-10 all-around finish, plus the beam blue ribbon.

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