Lady Pilgrims finish 6th at loaded Valparaiso Regional

VALPARAISO — Plymouth placed sixth against a field loaded with top-ranked talent as the Lady Pilgrims finished out their season at the Valparaiso Gymnastics Regional Friday night.
No. 1 Valpo won the meet with a 113.9 score and second-ranked Portage placed second with a 110.375 as the two teams to advance to the state finals, while 10th-ranked Angola was third with a 106.150, No. 6 Chesterton finished fourth with a 105.450, ninth-ranked DeKalb was fifth with a 104.6, and Plymouth put up 89.5 points.
“The talent level over at that regional is incredible,” said Plymouth head coach Dr. Anthony McPerron. “But I had to laugh when the Portage coach asked me what gym our girls worked out of during the offseason. When I told her most of our girls are two- or three-sport athletes and do very little gymnastics outside of our season, she was shocked and impressed at the same time. Almost all of the girls over here do just gymnastics all year round.”
The Pilgrims got off to a rough start in the program’s first appearance at the big meet since 2007 but settled in after the beam and bars to score 35 points in the vault and another 33.65 points in the floor exercise. Sophomore Nicky Davis — making her second appearance at regional after advancing individually to the meet as a freshman last season — and freshman Cassi Quissell both scored 9.1 in the vault to finish just .1 shy of earning top-six individual placements for state berths in the event, while senior Maggie Morrow tallied an 8.25 score and Rachael Principe had an 8.55 in the vault. Quissell led the team on the floor with a 9.15, while Davis scored a 9.05, and Morrow scored an 8.05.
Davis finished 13th in the all around competition with a score 34.2, while Quissell was 15th with a 33.65 score, and Morrow finished out her career with no falls in any event, placing 16th overall with a 29.7.
Senior Mandy McPherron scored a 6.05 stepping in on the beam after junior Traci Longanecker ended her season with an ankle injury at last Saturday’s Wawasee Sectional, freshman Amber Eckman tallied a 7.4 score on the floor, and Brycelyn Garza scored a 4.55 on bars at Valpo.
“I can’t say enough of how proud I am of these girls,” said Dr. McPherron. “They came in and started off the whole meet on bars and had great routines. We were within a point on bars of Chesterton, who is ranked fourth. If you would have told me before the season we would be within a point of a top five team on bars at regionals I would have thought you were crazy.”
With Friday’s result, the team bids good-bye to Morrow, McPherron and Stephani Rosas but will return everyone else from a squad that ended a four-year dry spell in regional appearances.
“Other than Maggie and Mandy in beam, we are bringing back all the other girls who completed tonight,” said Dr. McPherron. “Two freshmen, two sophomores and one junior. I think this experience tonight will pay big dividends next year. I told the girls with greater recognition comes greater expectations. We will take a little time off here to heal up and then get right back into our offseason workouts for those few not in a spring sport. I think our future is bright for PHS gymnastics.”
At Valparaiso
Team scores: 1. Valpo 113.9, 2. Portage 110.375, 3. Angola 106.150, 4. Chesterton 105.450, 5. DeKalb 104.6, 6. Plymouth 98.5.
All Around top 6: 1. Morgan Algozine (V) 38.975, 2. TIE Alex Nickel (A) 37.350, 2. TIE Mackenzie Barcelli (Po) 37.350, 4. Kiya Hill (Po) 37.050, 5. Danielle Solis (Po) 36.675, 6. Brandi Tuzinski (C) 36.575.
Plymouth individual scores
Vault Bars Beam Floor All Around
Nicky Davis 9.1 8.5 7.5 9.05 34.15
Cassi Quissell 9.1 8.4 7.0 9.15 33.65
Maggie Morrow 8.25 6.75 7.3 8.05 30.35
Brycelyn Garza 4.55
Mandy McPherron 6.05
Rachael Principe 8.55
Amber Eckman 7.4