The progress made by the Worthington Kilbourne High School gymnastics team this season surprised coach Cindy Fushimi.
The Wolves concluded the season by placing sixth (137.53) of 12 teams in the team state meet March 1 at Hilliard Bradley, behind champion Brecksville-Broadview Heights (148.33).
"I was hoping, but I wasn't even sure we were going to make it to the state meet this year," Fushimi said. "With where we started, never would I have thought we'd be where we are today, finishing sixth in the state. All of our girls have shown so much improvement and doing this well just goes to show that hard work does pay off."
The Wolves had the second-best score on balance beam (34.85), with junior Jaclyn Turner scoring a team-high 9.05, and tied for the fourth-best score on floor exercise (35.08), with senior Selena Fushimi-Karns scoring a team-high 8.95.
Kilbourne had the sixth-best score on vault (34.8), with freshman Allie Guist scoring a team-high 8.975, and the ninth-best score on uneven bars (32.8), with junior Celeste Fushimi-Karns scoring a team-best 8.475.
"I thought the best we could do was fifth or sixth, so this was an almost-perfect day for us," Fushimi said. "We definitely were good on beam."
In the individual state meet March 2 at Bradley, Selena Fushimi-Karns placed 23rd in the all-around (34.8), 26th on floor (8.7) and tied for 22nd on vault (9.0).
There were 36 competitors in each event and 35 in the all-around.
"I've been doing gymnastics since I was little and knowing this was my last meet motivated me to do my best," Selena Fushimi-Karns said. "I was really happy with my vault."
Guist placed 10th on bars (8.775).
"That was one of my best bar routines and it was nice to hit it at state," she said.
Sophomore Kayla Rice finished 13th (8.875) and Turner was 25th (8.45) on beam.
"I was really nervous but I had fun," Rice said. "I'm just glad I hit my routine."
Kilbourne advanced to state for the third time in four seasons by winning its first district championship since 2000.
The host Wolves scored a 140.625 in the 24-team district meet Feb. 23, with Dublin Coffman (138.925) and Thomas Worthington (136.125) earning the other two state berths.
Selena Fushimi-Karns placed second in the all-around (35.8) and floor (9.125) and third on vault (9.225), as the top nine finishers in each event and the all-around qualified for state.
Turner won the district title on beam in a program-record 9.55. Rice placed fourth on beam (9.075) and Guist was fourth on bars (8.825).
Kilbourne scored a 137.45 to win the OCC-Central Division meet Feb. 9 at Thomas, finishing ahead of Hilliard Davidson (127.225), Olentangy Liberty (125.525), Delaware (111.25), Westland (101.525) and Dublin Scioto (89.25). The Wolves went 5-0 in OCC-Central duals and finished first in the overall league standings with 24 points, marking their fourth consecutive league championship. Liberty (18, 4-1) and Davidson (18, 3-2) were tied for second, followed by Delaware (12, 2-3), Westland (1-4) and Scioto (0-5).
"Winning district was a complete surprise," Fushimi said. "Jaclyn Turner missed the first half of the season with a back injury and having her come back and win beam made a huge difference for us. It was nice to win OCCs, too."
The Wolves lose two seniors in Selena Fushimi-Karns and Paige Martinski. Among those expected to return are Guist, Rice, Turner and Celeste Fushimi-Karns.
"Selena had a great four years and this was a breakthrough season," Fushimi said. "Paige was a positive leader who also had a great year.
"We'll have some spots to fill, but I think everyone is willing to work hard to improve."
Cardinals' Carloni reaches state podium
Leah Carloni of Thomas reached the podium in two events in the individual state meet, as she placed fifth on beam (9.25) and bars (9.15).
The top six finishers in each event and the all-around made the podium.
The junior also competed at state in the all-around, finishing eighth (36.2).
"I'm really excited because (making podium) is a big accomplishment for me," Carloni said. "I got my best score of the year on beam, and my bars routine went well, too. My goal was to get a 36 all-around for the first time, and everything went really well."
Also competing in the individual state meet was senior Anna Glover, who finished 11th on beam (8.975) and tied for 16th on floor (8.9).
"It was nice to compete here for the third time as an individual, and I feel good about my routines on beam and floor," Glover said. "I usually do a little better on beam, but I did better on floor (at state) and that was a good way to go out as a senior."
Thomas finished 10th (133.95) in the team state meet.
The Cardinals tied Kilbourne for the fourth-best score on floor (35.08), with Glover scoring a team-high 8.975, and had the fifth-best score on beam (34.58), with Carloni scoring a team-high 9.15.
"This wasn't one of our highest team scores, but I'm just glad we were able to compete there," coach Marci Skeen said. "We ended on beam and we didn't have a single fall there for the second week in a row."
Thomas advanced to state as a team for the fourth consecutive season by posting a season-high 136.125 at district to secure the third and final state berth.
Carloni won the district title on bars (9.175), placed fifth on beam (9.05) and was third in the all-around (35.75). Glover placed third on beam (9.1) and finished seventh on floor (8.875).
Thomas scored a 134.8 in the OCC-Ohio meet Feb. 9 at home to place second, 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 went 4-1 in OCC-Ohio duals and finished second in the overall league standings 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). Glover finished first on beam (9.35), placed second on floor (9.1) and finished fifth in the all-around (34.7).
The Cardinals lose four seniors in Glover, Elizabeth Green, Hannah Johnson and Kacie Washburn. Among those expected to return are Carloni and sophomores Haley Carnahan and Erica Roggenkamp.
"Making it to state all four years of our careers was a exciting accomplishment for our seniors and for our entire team," Skeen said. "I'm really going to miss our seniors because I've worked with them since they were in middle school and they were a very successful group.
"I don't know how competitive we'll be next year because this (senior) group was special, but I know that we have some good kids coming back."