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Gymnastics: Brandi Tuzinski has been Trojans’ beam of light

Chesterton's Brandi Tuzinski performs her floor exercise during DunelConference Meet Merrillville High School Saturday February 23 2013. | Jim Karczewski~for

Chesterton's Brandi Tuzinski performs her floor exercise during the Duneland Conference Meet at Merrillville High School on Saturday February 23, 2013. | Jim Karczewski~for Sun-Times Media

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Sectional
Preview

When: Noon, Saturday

Where: Chesterton High School

Teams: Boone Grove, Chesterton, Crown Point, Hobart, Lake Central, LaPorte, Lowell, Merrillville, Michigan City, Morgan Township, Portage, Valparaiso, Washington Township.

Gymnasts to watch: Valparaiso: Morgan Algozine, Hannah Erwin, Rushelle Miller, Caroline Miller, Lia Milroy; Portage: Mackenzie Barcelli, Danielle Solis, Madison Kurtz; Crown Point: Megan Supan, Hannah Best, Natalie Groff; Chesterton: Brandi Tuzinski, Jordan Kearby, Lindsey Campbell; Lake Central: Andi Wartman; LaPorte: Hannah Sightes, Melanie Smith, Marissa Hill; Michigan City: Ashley Koza, Natalie Smith, Shelby Ford; Merrillville: Amy Aponte, Lauren Lamb, Kristina Goodman, Taylor Woods, Hannah Lane; Boone Grove: Valerie Strickland; Morgan Township: Kylee Maxwell; Washington Township: Cassidy Feldsien; Hobart: Maddy Dominguez; Lowell: Brittany Clemens, Kara Manojlovich.

Top 3

1. Valparaiso; 2. Portage; 3. Crown Point

Gymnast of the Week

Lia Milroy, Valparaiso

In the first DAC Championship meet of
her career, the freshman posted personal records on bars (9.2) and floor (9.5),
helping Valparaiso to the conference crown.

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Updated: March 28, 2013 6:48AM



CHESTERTON — A standard balance beam in gymnastics is 17.5 feet long and just four inches wide, although that may seem like a generous estimate in the minds of gymnasts who’ve struggled to stay on top of the apparatus.

But that’s been plenty of space to operate for Chesterton junior Brandi Tuzinski, a two-time state finalist on the beam.

“It’s the only event where I don’t have the worst mental games,” said Tuzinski, who also qualified for last year’s state meet as an all-around gymnast.

“I think she’s just so comfortable with her skill that she looks forward to going on the beam every day,” said Chesterton head coach Lauren West. “She’s comfortable up there. Everyone once in a while, you’ll get a gymnast like that. She’s developed that confidence in her high school career and it’s stuck.”

Tuzinski’s faith in her abilities stems from her earliest days at Gymnastics Plus, a local gymnastics club.

“They had a rule that you weren’t allowed to be spotted on beam. If you weren’t ready to be at those heights, you didn’t go up there,” she explained. “Eventually, I was just ready to be up there. I never had a problem with it. They always told me: if you’re up there, you’re ready.”

Adding to the difficulty of the beam is the extra attention paid while at competitions. At most meets, the beam is the final event to end in each rotation, which usually means that all eyes are on the fourth and final competitor from each team—Tuzinski’s usual spot.

“I love it when the team you’re going against lines up and watches your routine,” said Tuzinski. This scenario played out at last Saturday’s DAC Meet, with Tuzinski stepping to the beam as the final performer of the day. She responded with a 9.425, the third highest beam score of the day. “I knew everyone was watching my routine, so I had to make it a good one. I love that extra bit of pressure.”

Added West: “She’s always excited to end on the beam and we do that again this Saturday (at sectionals). She enjoys having all of those eyes on her.”

In a season where Chesterton’s lineup has frequently been altered due to injuries, Tuzinski has been the rock of the Trojans’ roster. After two difficult years, she’s had the fortune of competing healthy, declaring herself fully recovered from a stress fracture in her back suffered during her freshman year.

After the Trojans finished third at last Saturday’s DAC Meet, Tuzinski said she was “ecstatic” about her team’s performance. “It’s good to know that if we do this well or better on Saturday then we can go to regionals as a team and I really want my entire team going to regionals.”

They’ll need every point, with an extremely talented crop of gymnasts competing at this Saturday’s sectional, which Chesterton will host. Seven of the top 12 teams in the state will be there, as well as equally-skilled individual gymnasts like Morgan Township’s Kylee Maxwell and Washington Township’s Cassidy Feldsien.

With the rotation already set, Chesterton’s final event will be the beam. And it’ll be expected that Tuzinski will again be the final gymnast to perform a routine that day.

And, again, all eyes will probably be on her. Exactly the way she wants it.



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