The Thomas Worthington High School gymnastics team has been strong on the balance beam and floor exercise this season.
But according to coach Marci Skeen, how the Cardinals perform on the uneven bars could determine how well they fare in the district meet Feb. 23 at Worthington Kilbourne.
The top three teams at district will qualify for the team state meet March 1 at Hilliard Bradley, and the top nine finishers in each event and the all-around will advance to the individual state meet March 2 at Bradley.
Last year, Thomas placed third (137.345) at district behind Grove City (140.075) and Dublin Coffman (139.375) to reach state for a third consecutive season. The Cardinals finished ninth (134.5) of 12 teams at state, behind champion Brecksville-Broadview Heights (148).
"We're really weak on bars, except for Leah (Carloni), who is incredible, so we need to make sure we don't fall apart on that event," Skeen said. "We just need a normal day on bars because that should be good enough to get us through if we hit on all the other events. We also need to stay on the balance beam because we're strong on beam when we don't fall."
The Cardinals had three individual state qualifiers last year, including Carloni, who placed 25th in the all-around (35.1), eighth on bars (9.125), tied for 24th on beam (8.625) and finished 28th on vault (8.875). Also at state, Anna Glover tied for 15th on beam (8.825) and 2012 graduate Tatiana Diaz-Packard was 35th on vault (8.45).
"I'm hoping we can get three or four girls to state individually as well," Skeen said. "I'd like to see Leah and Anna make it there (in the) all-around. We've been able to peak at the right time the past three years, and I really hope we can do it again so the seniors can go to state all four years."
Thomas scored a season-high 134.8 to place second in the OCC-Ohio Division meet Feb. 9 at home, behind Coffman (141.2) and ahead of Olentangy (131.7), Upper Arlington (131.7), Hilliard Darby (123.85) and Grove City (108.5).
The Cardinals, who went 4-1 in league duals, finished second in the OCC-Ohio with 20 points, behind Coffman (24, 5-0) and ahead of Olentangy (15, 3-2), UA (13, 2-3), Grove City (6, 1-4) and Darby (6, 0-5).
In the league meet, Carloni won bars (9.175), placed second on vault (9.1) and in the all-around (35.75), placed fourth on floor (8.775) and finished seventh on beam (8.7), and Glover won beam (9.35), placed second on floor (9.1), placed fifth in the all-around (34.7) and finished 11th on vault (8.1) and bars (8.15).
Haley Carnahan placed 12th on vault (8.05), bars (8.1) and in the all-around (32.45) and finished 14th on beam (8.05) and floor (8.25), and Hannah Johnson placed fifth on vault (8.35), sixth on floor (8.65), 12th on beam (8.2), 14th in the all-around (31.65) and 19th on bars (6.45).
"It's exciting to get our best score of the year right before district," Skeen said. "We started well on beam and our scores escalated from there and we had our highest vault scores of the year. I was in tears after our beam routine because the girls practice so hard to stay on beam and it paid off."
Wolves win fourth straight OCC title
Kilbourne scored a season-high 137.45 to win the OCC-Central meet Feb. 9 at Thomas, ahead of Hilliard Davidson (127.225), Olentangy Liberty (125.525), Delaware (111.25), Westland (101.525) and Dublin Scioto (89.25).
The Wolves, who went 5-0 in league duals, finished first in the overall OCC-Central standings with 24 points to capture their fourth consecutive league championship. Liberty (18, 4-1) and Davidson (18, 3-2) tied for second overall, followed by Delaware (12, 2-3), Scioto (6, 1-4) and Westland (6, 0-5).
"Winning OCC is our goal every year, so this means a lot to us, especially to our seniors because it means we did well all four years," senior captain Selena Fushimi-Karns said. "We did really well on floor and vault, and Kayla Rice had an amazing all-around performance, so we're really proud of her."
Rice finished first on floor (9.1) and in the all-around (34.85) and placed second on beam (8.65), third on bars (8.35) and fourth on vault (8.75).
"I was definitely nervous, but when I heard my team cheering for me, it helped me relax and do my best," Rice said. "This was a real fun experience for our entire team."
Allie Guist won bars (8.875) and placed second on vault (8.95), third in the all-around (34.65), fifth on beam (8.4) and tied teammate Celeste Fushimi-Karns for sixth on floor (8.45).
Selena Fushimi-Karns placed third on vault (8.85) and floor (8.775), fourth on bars (8.2) and in the all-around (34.375) and tied for fourth on beam (8.55). Celeste Fushimi-Karns placed fifth on vault (8.35) and bars (7.9), tied for fourth on beam (8.55) and placed sixth in the all-around (33.225).
"We weren't quite as sharp as I would have liked us to be, but we added some new things and did well as a team," coach Cindy Fushimi said.
"Kayla executed a tsukahara on vault for the first time and got her best score of the year. Allie had her highest vault score here, too."
Last year, Kilbourne missed advancing to the state team competition for the first time since 2009 when it placed fifth (136.6) at district.
Selena Fushimi-Karns qualified for state on floor, placing 36th (8.05). Also advancing to state a year ago was 2012 graduate Erica Rodriguez, who placed 20th in the all-around (35.25), tied for 19th on vault (9.075), placed 28th on floor (8.925) and finished 30th on bars (8.5).
"Making it to state as a team is definitely our ultimate goal," Selena Fushimi-Karns said. "We need to hit every event with confidence like we did here."