NEW PALESTINE — Hard work and trying new things are leading to consistent success for New Palestine sophomore Lynzie Stiller.

The Daily Reporter Hancock County Gymnast of the Year is 2-for-2 when it comes to being a state meet qualifier and a sectional individual all-around champion.

“I think this year was a lot of growth and I had a lot more opportunities,” Stiller said. “I got new skills this year, at least one on every single event, and all that really upped my scores, and I had a lot more consistency. I think I was much better this year and had a lot more growth.”

The Dragons have won back-to-back team titles at the Connersville Sectional and Stiller has led the way. She combined for a score of 34.3 to win as a freshman, and totaled 34.925 this past season, as the Dragons edged Connersville by just .05 to claim the title.

Adding new and harder skills to her routines, she improved that total at the Franklin Central Regional, scoring a 35.25 to earn advancement to the state finals. She placed 23rd at state.

The formula for better scores is working on harder skills.

Stiller said she works on adding new, tougher routines in all of her events throughout the season.

“I mainly build my new skills during season,” she said. “I gradually work on adding them and get them in a short amount of time. I also knew from (my freshman year) what skills I needed to get. I didn’t work over the summer at all, but started doing two classes per week at the start of school year, doing tumbling. It helped to get a little bit ahead of others.

“I was ready by the time the season came. I started working on the new skills and I developed them pretty quickly because I was mentally prepared for them.”

Working on getting better is something coach Taylor Brown never has to worry about when it comes to Stiller.

“She would come in with such a positive attitude and willing to work hard on skills she already had and would come in with new things she wanted to try,” Brown said. “She knew if she did some harder skills then, when she was able to nail them, she’d be able to have some good scores and outscore some of the girls that were her toughest competition this season.”

Along with improving skills with classes, Stiller also gets ahead of others with being part of the football team cheer squad in the fall. Along with rooting on the football Dragons, the competitive cheer team worked its way to a national competition.

“Her being able to, in the fall, continue to do the tumbling, she’s coming into gymnastics season already being able to make the tumbling passes (for the floor exercise),” Brown said. “She added harder skills on floor and having tumbling in cheerleading really helped her out.”

Floor is Stiller’s favorite event. Her score of 9.45 in the regional was her best score in any event during the postseason. She was runner-up in the event at the sectional with a score of 9.15. Her best score at state came on vault with a 9.05.

“I love all of them, except beam,” Stiller said of the event that many of the gymnasts rank fourth out of four events. “Beam is not my favorite. I love floor and love the floor music and the tumbling. And, I love vault because I know how to use my power and my body, it’s so fun. Bars, it’s fun swinging around on them, but beam is just scary. You’re on a four-inch wide beam.”

Only a sophomore, Stiller has high hopes for the future.

She’d like to get back to the state finals — preferably with the entire team like the Dragons were able to do in 2023 — and continue to pursue another of goal of competing in gymnastics in college.

“I definitely want to advance to state next year. That is a big goal,” she said. “I have a few goals for different skills I want to get over the summer and I started thinking about (college gymnastics) this year and the colleges I could go to.

“It would have to be a D-II or D-III, and it would have to be out of state since the only college in-state is (D-I) Ball State. It would probably be for floor only, maybe vault, but I have started thinking about it.”