Lady Lions return to regional after 25 years

CONNERSVILLE – For the first time in many years, several area girls have extended their high school gymnastics seasons into the second weekend of the state tournament.

At the Connersville sectional Saturday, Rushville’s Lady Lions placed third as a team to advance their entire unit to regional, something that hasn’t happened since 1998. The Franklin County Lady Wildcats will also have a representative at Friday’s Franklin Central regional; junior Audrey Harper placed fifth in the all-around competition to earn her spot in the next round.

Junior Bell Westphal led the Lions by nearly capturing first in all-around. Her career best score of 34.15 trailed overall winner Lynzie Stiller (New Palestine freshman, 34.3) by mere fractions on judges’ cards. Westphal was runner-up on the vault (8.9) to New Castle freshman Hailey Helsley (9.0). She added a career mark on the balance beam of 8.85 to secure third. On uneven bars, Westphal took fourth (7.8) and earned sixth on the floor exercise (8.6).

Lion senior Cora Emory also would have stayed alive in the state tourney, regardless of team score, as she placed sixth in all-around with a career high of 31.35. Emory was 10th on both beam (8.175) and floor (8.2) while taking 14th on vault (8.35) and 18th on the bars (6.625).

Senior teammate Cyndi Tush scored a career-high mark on her floor routine as judges flipped up an 8.175 for 12th place. Her best finish, though, was on vault as 8.5 gained her 10th place. A 16th on beam (7.175) and 23rd on bars (5.425) netted her 14th in the all-around standings (29.275).

Harper’s top finish came on floor, where she placed fourth with a score of 8.7 behind three New Pal Lady Dragons – sectional champions with a collective score of 103.425. The junior Wildcat tied for fifth on the bars with NP’s Olivia Frank (7.75). A 16th on vault (8.3) and 21st on beam (7.0) were enough to keep her ahead of Emory in all-around competition.

FC freshman Rachael Ruf had a good first showing in her sectional debut as the Cats’ underclassman placed 8th in all-around (30.975). Ruf’s best effort came on bars, her 7.175 tally good for 11th. She was 14th on both beam (7.5) and floor (8.1 tied with Shelbyville’s Renee Aldridge). The youngster rounded out her day tied for 20th on vault (8.2) with Muncie Central’s Amarrah Garrett.

Union County freshman Eliana Bostick also made the circuit around the gym, earning 12th in all-around (29.95). Seventh place on bars nearly put her into the regional, her score of 7.625 falling just shy. Bostick tied for 17th on vault with NP freshman Reagan Seal (8.275), was 22nd on beam (6.925) and tied for 23rd on the floor (7.125) with Morristown frosh Remi Spicklemire.

Rushville senior Mallory McDaniel was 20th on floor (7.65), 21st on bars (6.175) and 27th on beam (6.025). Sophomore Karma Wilson competed on vault, placing 28th (7.3). It was the first postseason action for the two Lions.

New Castle scored 99.25 to finish in second place as Rushville totaled 95.525. Connersville was next with 90.325 and Morristown fifth (88.425). FC was eighth (62.725) and UC 10th (29.95).

March In for regional at the south Indianapolis school is 6:30 p.m. Harper will be accompanied by coach and father Scott Harper. Jenni Philpot and Petra Tackett lead the Lions, with junior Gabby Pavey filling out the RCHS roster. Top three teams at regional advance to state as well as top six in each individual event and all-around. Admission is $10.

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