Heading into the state gymnastics meet, Stow-Munroe Falls coach Mariah Carmichael said she believed the pressure would be off her three state qualifiers, as the the competition level at the district meet rivaled that of states.
Still, there’s nothing like having experience at the state level.
That reflected in the Bulldogs’ results Saturday at Hilliard Bradley High School. The Bulldogs were unable to secure any top 10 places, which would have conferred All-Ohio honors.
Carmichael said that junior Peyton Balawender seemed to be most relaxed of the Bulldogs trio, in large part because it was her second trip to states.
"She knew that the competition was going to be hard, but she had done some good routines in the week before states," Carmichael said. "I think she was pretty relaxed."
Carmichael also said Balawender added a new element to her floor exercise routine, adding a front pike somersault to her first tumbling pass. She stuck the landing.
As a result, Balawender finished with a season-best score of 9.175 on floor exercise. The hard part was, the competition was so strong on floor exercise, Balawender finished in 14th place.
Toledo Whitmer’s Victoria Harder won the floor exercise with a score of 9.525.
Carmichael said she was very happy with Balawender, even if the junior was hoping for an All-Ohio spot.
"I think she was hoping for it, but I think she knew going in it was going to be hard," Carmichael said.
Carmichael said she would like to see Balawender make a run at All-Ohio honors on both floor exercise and balance beam during her senior year.
Stow had two sophomores competing on uneven bars, but neither was able to match their score from districts. Carmichael said she believed nerves got to her two sophomores, both of whom were making their first trip to the state meet.
Sophomore Maggie Battenhouse tied for 16th-place with Maginificat’s Julia Pompeani with a score of 8.75.
"She did her routine as good as she could do it," Carmichael said. "She was really close to making it in the all around [this year]. I ‘m hotping she can make it next year in the all around.
Meanwhile, Carmichael had hoped sophomore Rachel Pitcovich could make a run at All-Ohio honors after finishing sixth on uneven bars the previous week.
Pitcovich has a tough afternoon, however, as her score of 8.475 tied her for 25th place on uneven bars with Versailles’ Madison Ahrens and Miamiburg’s Alexandra Johnson.
"She fell and the she didn’t take the fall right away," Carmichael said. "She attempted to do another skill and ended up doing it twice.
"It was a little bit of a disappointment. She didn’t even do her routine as well as she could at districts. I was really expecting for her to get it done. You could see a bit on her face that she was nervous."
Brecksville-Broadview Heights’ Emily Huffman won the uneven bars competition with a score of 9.55. Huffman also won the individual all around competition with a score of 37.525.
Brecksville retained the team title with a score of 146.7 on Friday.
The good news for Stow is that all three of the state qualifiers will return next season. Carmichael also intends to return, as Stow has had a different coach each of the last four seasons.
"I think it was good season," Carmichael said. I’m planning on coming back. I’ve had a lot of fun."
Reporter Michael Leonard can be reached at 330-541-9442, firstname.lastname@example.org or @MLeonard_RPC