Gymnastics: Morgan’s lone gymnast Kylee Maxwell making immediate impact
By Dave Melton Post-Tribune correspondent January 14, 2013 9:16PM
Morgan Twp's Kylee Maxwell works out at Indiana Elite Gymnastics in Wheeler Monday afternoon. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 16, 2013 6:25AM
Yes, there were nerves for Morgan Township freshman Kylee Maxwell at last week’s 4-team meet with Chesterton, Hobart and Washington Township.
She’d been on the mat before, having competed individually for seven years and reaching Level 7 as a club gymnast. But this was her first high school competition, and she was the lone representative of the Morgan Township program. One event, in particular, had Maxwell on edge.
“I was nervous about my floor routine,” she said. “My endurance needs to be worked on. I know I can do it, but it’s not my strong point.”
To Maxwell’s advantage, her first event at that meet was the vault, which is her favorite.
“It comes easier to me than any of the other events,” she said. “I get more adrenaline and excitement in that event. “
In her first high school competition, Maxwell posted an outstanding 9.7 on vault. She said that first event gave her all the confidence she needed to cruise through the next three events: beam (9.2), bars (9.7) and floor (9.5). Her all-around score of 38.10 earned her first-place honors, beating out a pair of gymnasts with state meet experience in Chesterton’s Brandi Tuzinski and Washington Township’s Cassidy Feldsien.
“The whole experience was fun; getting to see some other gymnasts and seeing what they could do,” she said.
Posting an all-around score that worthy of a second-place finish at last year’s state meet was a pleasant surprise for Maxwell.
“I knew that I had the ability to do it, but the USA Gymnastics scoring is a different. When I saw my scores were that high, I thought, ‘Whoa.’”
It was a similar surprise for her coach, too.
“I knew she was a great gymnast,” said Lisa Pozniak, who’s been coaching Maxwell for three years, “but for her first meet, yes, I was a little surprised.”
In the brief time they’ve spent together, Pozniak said she’s seen steady improvement from Maxwell.
“She’s developed more confidence; she’s not all over the place anymore,” Pozniak said. “She’s learned a lot both on and off the mat and that’s helped her in gymnastics.”
Pozniak graduated from Merrillville in 2010, where she competed under the direction of Pirates’ head coach Diane Roberts. One of the faces in the crowd during Pozniak’s career is now her pupil.
“I watched her in gymnastics when I was growing up,” Maxwell said.
Aside from her coach, Maxwell has had help from other local competitors. Three of those gymnasts that have offered their support competed with Maxwell last Tuesday: Hobart’s Maddy Dominguez and Chesterton’s Marisa Myers and Lindsey Campbell. She’s also talked to Feldsien, another gymnast acting as the lone representative of her school’s team.
With her first competition out of the way, Maxwell’s focus now turns to improvement.
“I want to have my routines more precise by the time we get to sectional so that, hopefully, I can make it to regional or state.”
It’s an equally difficult challenge for her coach to keep Maxwell reaching the high standard she established.
“We’ll just have to work harder to keep her up there,” Pozniak said. “It’s only going to go up from here … right?” Pozniak adds, turning towards Maxwell, who replied with a confident: “Yes.”
Maxwell’s next opportunity will come on Jan. 26 at the Chesterton Invitational.