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Gymnastics: Underclassmen from NWI make an impression at state finals

Hannah Best speaks with coaches after her floor exercise during IHSAA gymnastics state finals Worthen ArenMuncie Ind. Saturday March 16

Hannah Best speaks with coaches after her floor exercise during the IHSAA gymnastics state finals at Worthen Arena in Muncie, Ind. Saturday March 16, 2013. Best placed fifth in the floor exercise. | Taylor Irby~For Sun-Times Media

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MUNCIE — A talented crop of underclassmen represented Northwest Indiana at Saturday’s gymnastics state finals.

Morgan Township freshman Kylee Maxwell capped her rookie season with an all-around score of 37.15, tying her for fifth place overall.

“I just wanted to make it here,” said Maxwell, the only individual all-around qualifier from the region. “The inexperience was a bit scary: not knowing what do to and what to expect.”

Maxwell reached the top six on beam (9.225, 6th) and vault (9.725, 5th), while adding a 9.35 on floor and 8.825 on bars.

“I was happy with my floor routine and my vault,” she said. “Beam was okay, too. But I could’ve done better on bars.”

Another freshman making her state finals debut was Crown Point’s Hannah Best, who finished fifth on floor with a 9.45.

“I wasn’t that nervous on the floor. I think I would’ve been more nervous if I was competing in the all-around,” she said. “I’ve been having good form throughout the whole season.”

Michigan City sophomore Ashley Koza also made her first trip to the state meet, shaking off a long wait to post a 9.325 on bars, tying her for ninth place.

“That took forever,” said Koza, who didn’t compete until the fourth rotation — about four hours after the event started. “It felt like the longest meet of my life. But I was just glad to be representing my school here.”

Chesterton junior Brandi Tuzinski, competing in her third state finals, had a much different experience than Koza. Tuzinski scored a 9.125 on bars during the first rotation, then took in the rest of the meet from the crowd.

“It was nice to get it out of the way, yes, but I feel like those bigger scores are always left for the end,” Tuzinski said, echoing the thoughts of several other gymnasts. “I’ve never been able to sit and watch like this. It’s really different. I liked it.”



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