Emily Jones of the Upper Arlington High School gymnastics team hopes someday that her competitors in the individual state meet will be in awe of her scores like she was of some others March 2 at Hilliard Bradley.
For the second consecutive year, the sophomore and her classmate, Mary Kate Keethler, competed as individuals at state. Both improved their all-around standing, as Keethler placed 24th with a 34.675 after finishing 34th (33.8) last season and Jones placed 28th (33.95) after tying for 31st (34.325) a year ago.
"Just being there two years in a row feels real awesome," Jones said. "You're in an environment there where you'll see 9.9 and 10s for scores and, when you see that, it's kind of hard to compete because you feel like you're below everybody else. But I still have two years to get to that level, and I'm going to work my hardest."
Jones tied for 15th on the uneven bars (8.675), tied for 27th on balance beam (8.35) and finished 36th on vault (8.6). Keethler tied for 20th on vault (9.025) and was 26th on bars (8.425) and 34th on floor exercise (8.275).
Brecksville-Broadview Heights' Alecia Farina won vault (9.9), bars (9.4), beam (9.45) and the all-around (38.35) and teammate Michaela Romito won floor (9.7). There were 36 competitors in each event and 35 in the all-around.
The Golden Bears did not qualify for the state team meet March 1 at Bradley.
"Emily and I had our difficulties, but it was better than last year," Keethler said. "I wasn't nervous. The attitude I had the whole day was I was competing for my team."
UA placed sixth (132.8) in the 24-team district meet Feb. 23, behind the three state qualifiers in host Worthington Kilbourne (140.63), Dublin Coffman (138.925) and Thomas Worthington (136.125) as well as Dresden Tri-Valley (133.175) and Olentangy (132.85).
Jones and Keethler tied for fifth on bars (8.8), Keethler placed sixth on floor (8.9), Jones placed ninth on beam (8.875) and Jones and Keethler finished fifth (35.425) and ninth (35.15), respectively, in the all-around.
The top nine finishers in each event and the all-around advanced to state.
Also competing at district for the Bears were seniors Casey Beam (bars, beam, floor and vault) and Sierra Schmitt (bars, beam and vault), junior Somer Aleshire (bars, beam, floor and vault) and freshman Alyssa Cooper (bars, beam, floor and vault).
UA tied Olentangy for third (131.7) in the OCC-Ohio Division meet Feb. 9 at Thomas, behind Coffman (141.2) and Thomas (134.8) and ahead of Hilliard Darby (123.85) and Grove City (108.5).
The Bears went 2-3 in OCC-Ohio duals and finished fourth in the overall league standings with 13 points, behind Coffman (24, 5-0), Thomas (20, 4-1) and Olentangy (15, 3-2) and ahead of Grove City (6, 1-4) and Darby (6, 0-5).
In the league meet, Keethler won vault (9.2) and placed fifth on bars (8.625) and seventh in the all-around (34.575), and Jones placed fourth on bars (8.8), sixth on beam (8.95) and eighth in the all-around (34.4). The next highest finisher for the Bears was Cooper in the all-around (11th, 32.475).
UA loses three seniors in Beam, Schmitt and Tessia Vasquez but expects to return Aleshire, Cooper, Jones, Keethler, junior Makenna Bertino and sophomore Morgan Wilcox.
Jones attributed a more focused attitude to second-year coach Abigail Schmidt, a former University of Maryland gymnast who instituted cuts during team tryouts for the first time in program history.
"She knows exactly how to get this team going and what we need to do," Jones said of Schmidt. "In the past around school, our team had the reputation of something you could do and just have a good time and not work that hard. The nine girls on this team worked hard and succeeded all year and had a great time. I'm proud of how we did."