MERRILLVILLE — Fresh off a dominating performance earlier in the week at West Noble, the Plymouth High School gymnastics team headed to Merrillville for the Pirate Pride Invitational on Saturday, hoping to find out a little about where it stacked up in relation to some of the best the state has to offer against a tourney field that included No. 2-ranked Portage, No. 5 Columbus East and No. 6 Merrillville, along with 12 other teams.
Saturday was also the ISSMA regional music solo and ensemble contest, however, and that meant that the Pilgrims would be without the services of their no. 3 gymnast senior Traci Longanecker and no. 4 gymnast Karly Gruett, who would both be at the music competition.
In order to have any hope of placing in the top four the Pilgrims would need consistent performances from top gymnasts Nicky Davis and Cassi Quissell, along with other girls stepping up to fill the void.
Plymouth got just that with junior Davis and sophomore Quissell both having outstanding meets and seniors Katie Galloway and Val Ditizio and juniors Brycelyn Garza and Kaylee Vendola all contributing to the Pilgrims posting a 98.325, good enough for a fourth place finish, just behind the ranked teams in the field.
“I can’t say enough about the girls today,” said PHS gymnastics coach Tony McPherron. “We knew we would be short-handed coming in, yet all of them had great meets. Those girls really stepped up today and did what they needed to do. I think we learned a lot today about ourselves. If we add in the points we were missing in Traci and Karly, we could have competed for a second or third spot very easily. Hopefully the girls will use this as motivation to continue to get better.”
Davis led the way for the Pilgrims by placing eighth on vault, second on bars, eighth on beam and fourth on floor to earn a fourth place in the all-around. She was bested in the all-around only by three gymnasts who rank fourth, fifth and seventh in the state individually and missed placing third by only .075 of a point. Davis missed the Plymouth record on uneven bars by 0.025 points and missed tying the all-around record — currently held by her teammate Quissell — by the same margin. She was also just 0.1 off the school record on the floor.
Not one to be outdone easily, Quissell also had a spectacular day.
She placed sixth on bars and floor, fourth on beam, and also placed sixth in the all-around. With their performances on Saturday, Davis and Quissell find themselves now both ranked in the top 15 all-around gymnasts in the state.
“Nicky made a mistake on her beam mount that cost her at least 0.5 points. Without that she takes third instead of fourth,” said McPherron. “I am really enjoying watching her and Cassi compete every day in practice. They push each other and make each other better. I hope today they realize that with continued hard work we could be competing well into March as both a team and as individuals. Their goal is state. I think they can do it if they put their hearts and minds to it.”
Plymouth has no time to rest on their laurels as the Pilgrims host the No. 12-ranked LaPorte Slicers Tuesday night at the PHS auxiliary gym for their only home meet of the year. It is also Senior Night for the Pilgrims. The meet starts at 6:30 p.m., and the Pilgrims are hoping for a big turnout as they try to beat the Slicers for the first time in program history.
Team Scores: 1. Portage 109.925, 2. Columbus East 105.875, 3. Merrillville 105.125, 4. Plymouth 98.325, 5. Lafayette Jefferson 98.1, 6. Lafayette Harrison 94.4, 7. FW Snider 91.95, 8. Hobart 90.925, 9. North Montgomery 89.65, 10. FW Concordia 78.7, 11. Lowell 77.7, 12. Southmont 76.05, 13. Boone Grove 63.875, 14. FW North 31.85, 15.Turkey Run 29.925
Plymouth all-around individual scores
(place in parenthesis)
Nicky Davis 36.075(4)
Cassi Quissell 35.8(6)
Katie Galloway 24.65