MUNCIE — On the road to the IHSAA Gymnastics State Finals at Ball State University on Saturday, the balance beam has been the one pothole New Palestine gymnast Regan Elsea has been unable to avoid.
A combined three falls at the sectional and regional meets kept the Dragons’ senior from realizing her full scoring potential.
Elsea knew the pressure would be on again Saturday by the time she got to the beam, which was the Dragons’ final event of the day. What she did not know, though, would be just how much would be riding on those 45 seconds she spent atop the plank.
Elsea needed to conquer those past demons, not only because it would be her final event in a Dragons’ uniform, but because a single slip meant ruining what for her had become a historic day.
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Before the beam, Elsea had posted three consecutive 9.3-plus scores, including a school-record 9.675 on the vault, positioning herself as a threat to the all-around crown.
“You cannot fall,” she told herself before climbing onto the beam. “You cannot ruin the perfect meet.”
She didn’t. She delivered a near-flawless routine, was mobbed by her coaches and teammates, and she exited Worthen Arena the third-best all-around performer in the state of Indiana with a new Dragons’ record of 37.825.
She also collected a second-place medal on the vault and a third-place medal on that tormenting beam.
“I haven’t had that one awesome meet yet this year,” an elated Elsea said afterward. “Thank God it was at state.”
Elsea’s dominance helped lead the Dragons to 108.925 points and a sixth-place finish, the best in the Jenny Musselman coaching era (2008-15) and tied for the best in program history (2004).
Valparaiso repeated as champion Saturday, posting 113.1 points, while Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger (110.925) and Columbus North (110.1) finished two-three for a second straight year.
Owen Valley (109.550) came in fourth, followed by Logansport (109.100), New Palestine, Portage (107.275), Fort Wayne Carroll (106.000) and Homestead (103.525).
For Musselman, the finish was not what they had dreamed about all week, but the point total accomplished the mission she had set her Dragons out to achieve.
“We just proved we weren’t a fluke last week,” said the coach, whose team score came up less than a point short of its regional runner-up sum, a school-record 109.85. “That was kind our ultimate goal. Well, our ultimate goal was to get a medal, but it was a tight race. We made it respectable.”
New Palestine was in the thick of the medal hunt after two events Saturday. The Dragons had posted a 27.1 on the floor (Elsea 9.4; Kate Fee 9.25; Tara Morey 8.45), then a team meet-best 27.950 on the vault (Elsea 9.675; Fee 9.425; Faith Land 8.85) and were in third place with 55.05 points.
Then, however, came the bars and the undoing of the Dragons’ medal hopes. As a team, they scored a team-low 26.75 points (Elsea 9.325; Emily Heighway 8.85; Fee 8.575), and they fell to sixth. Despite a solid showing on the beam (Elsea 9.425; Fee 9.2; Morey 8.5), they had dropped too far back to catch the top four squads.
For senior Fee, the meet was bittersweet. The Dragon was happy her team performed so well and that she did not fall off the beam for the first time in three career state finals appearances, but coming away without a podium finish for a third straight year was more than a little disappointing.
“It just was not the meet I was hoping to end my career on,” said Fee, fighting back tears. “It definitely was not my favorite.”
Fee came in 15th in the all-around competition (36.45), the best finish of her career, but a slip off the bars and a few wobbles on the beam clearly were still on her mind after the competition.
Musselman, however, said neither Fee nor the team had anything to be disappointed about.
“I wish she could have (been perfect) and had the ultimate state experience,” Musselman said. “She took it hard, because it is her senior year, and I think she felt like she let herself down and she let me down, but that’s not how I feel at all.
“The way I see it is we delivered our second-highest team total of the year. As far as I’m concerned, we kicked butt.”
Notes: Owen Valley’s Anna Watkin won the all-around competition with a 38.150. She also snagged balance beam gold with a 9.625. Kylee Maxwell of Morgan Township championed the vault with the highest score of the day, a 9.85. On the uneven bars, Columbus North’s Ashley Holliday earned the top prize with a 9.6. Finally, Valparaiso’s Rushelle Miller claimed the floor title with a 9.575. … New Palestine defeated three teams at state for the first time in the history of the program. This was just the second year nine teams were invited to final the meet, instead of eight. … Elsea and Fee are the Dragons’ only two graduating seniors. Morey, Land, Heighway, Annabelle Dockins and Rylee Elsea are eligible to return next year with State Finals experience.
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Results from Saturday’s 43rd Annual IHSAA Gymnastics State Finals in Worthen Arena at Ball State University.
Final Team Scores
1. Valparaiso 113.100
2. Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger 110.925
3. Columbus North 110.100
4. Owen Valley 109.550
5. Logansport 109.100
6. New Palestine 108.925
7. Portage 107.275
8. Carroll (Fort Wayne) 106.000
9. Homestead 103.525
1. Anna Watkin, Owen Valley 38.150
2. Kelley Platt, Logansport 37.9
3. Regan Elsea, New Palestine 37.825
4. Kylee, Morgan Township 37.675
5. Jenna Algozine, Valparaiso 37.625
5. Rushelle Miller, Valparaiso 37.625
1. Kylee Maxwell, Morgan Township 9.85
2. Regan Elsea, New Palestine 9.675
3. Kelley Platt, Logansport 9.65
4. Ashley Holliday, Columbus North 9.625
5. Maria Trahin, Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger 9.575
5. Anna Watkin, Owen Valley 9.575
1. Ashley Holiday, Columbus North 9.6
2. Jenna Algozine, Valparaiso 9.55
3. Kylee Maxwell, Morgan Township 9.5
4. Anna Watkin, Owen Valley 9.475
4. Rushelle Miller, Valparaiso 9.475
6. Katrina May, Columbus North 9.425
1. Anna Watkin, Owen Valley 9.625
2. Claire Thompson, Columbus North 9.55
3. Kelley Platt, Logansport 9.425
3. Regan Elsea, New Palestine 9.425
5. Sydney Intagliata, Valparaiso 9.4
6. Delaney Garland, Carroll (Fort Wayne) 9.35
6. Lizzy Schoenlein, Jay County 9.35
1. Rushelle Miller, Valparaiso 9.575
2. Kelley Platt, Logansport 9.525
2. Andi Wartman, Lake Central 9.525
4. Anna Watkin, Owen Valley 9.475
5. Kylee Maxwell, Morgan Township 9.45
5. Hannah Best, Crown Point 9.45
5. Hanna Wilson, Valparaiso 9.45