Stow-Munroe Falls gymnastics didn’t have quite the day at districts Saturday that it did on Presidents Day for sectionals.
That didn’t keep two Bulldogs from flipping their way to the state tournament.
Stow junior Maggie Battenhouse qualified for states in both the individual all-around and on floor exercise, while junior Rachel Pitcovich advanced to states on the uneven parallel bars. The top five teams and top 16 individuals on each apparatus at districts advanced to the state meet.
In the team race at districts, Stow finished in 10th place with a score of 133.775. Defending state champion Brecksville-Broadview Heights won the district title with a score of 146.275.
Bulldogs coach Miranda Cottrill said a quick turnaround for districts might have hurt her team, as Stow had set a school record with a score of 136.1 just five days earlier at sectionals.
"I think it was hard because they had sectionals on Monday, and then we had to squeeze in two practices before getting to districts," Cottrill said. "I think they were a little tired."
"We had a few falls on [balance] beam and on bars," she added. "We started a little rough. It was good we got to finish with our two best events. We’re usually better on vault and floor exercise."
Indeed, Stow scored a 31.925 on balance beam and a 33.425 on uneven bars, before getting a 33.25 on vault and a 35.175 on floor exercise.
Battenhouse led the charge for Stow on floor exercise, as her score of 9.375 tied her for fourth place with North Royalton’s Avery Keller. It was good for an all-district place for Battenhouse and was a huge boost to her all-around score.
Battenhouse just missed the state qualifying cut on vault, as she finished 18th with a score of 9.0. Cottrill said Battehouse struggled a bit on bars (8.8) and beam (8.5), but her all-around score of 35.675 was good for 14th place and a state berth.
"I’m really excited for Maggie," Cottril said. "She’s a club gymnast, so this is something she’s been working on. At the club. she’s been competing at Level 9 and she been incorporating those routines in. She works extremely hard. To see it actually work out is very gratifying."
Meanwhile, Cottrill said back problems have kept Pitcovich from competing as an all-around gymnast this year. Pitcovich made the most of her uneven bars routine at districts, as she finished with a 9.25, tying her for fourth place with Brunswick’s Jordan Thomas.
Cottrill said Pitcovich could perform even better on the bars, noting she put up a score of 9.3 earlier this season. Does this man the coach believes the junior can challenge to be on the state podium?
"I hope so. She made the all district team," Cottrill said. "She has beautiful handstands. The judges love her lines."
Elsewhere at districts, there was some sadness for Stow, as senior Peyton Balawender just missed the cut to advance to states in three events.
Balawender finished 18th in the all around with a score of 34.825 (8.675 on vault, 8.7 on bars, 8.45 on beam, 9.0 on floor).
Balawender finished in the state alternate spot on balance beam, taking 17th place, and also tied for 18th on floor exercise. She was just .025 points off the final qualifying score on both apparatuses.
The state gymnastics tournament will take place Friday and Saturday at Hilliard Bradley High School. The individual competition opens Saturday at noon.
Cottrill said she would love to see her gymnasts shoot for All-Ohio spots.
"Mostly for Maggie, I want her to be able to have a clean all-around," Cottrill said. "She fell on beam and the uneven bars at districts. If she can hit her routines, she’ll do great.
"With Rachel, she kind of gets in her head sometimes," she added. "She just need to be patient, do her thing."
Reporter Michael Leonard can be reached at 330-541-9442, email@example.com or @MLeonard_RPC