Worthington Kilbourne High School gymnastics coach Cindy Fushimi would love to see her team win the 16th-annual Kilbourne Invitational for the first time since 2000 -- and just the second time overall -- when it plays host to the event Saturday, Jan. 25.
But considering the strength of the competition in the 12-team meet, Fushimi will be satisfied if the Wolves can earn their best score of the season.
Kilbourne scored 134.375 points to finish third in the event last season behind Findlay (139.925) and Dublin Coffman (137.925).
Also competing this weekend will be Beavercreek, Coffman, Delaware, DeSales, Dublin Jerome, Findlay, Grove City, Mason, Olentangy Liberty, Oregon Clay and Westerville Central.
"Mason and Findlay both were really good last year and Dublin Coffman and Grove City are doing really well this season, so this is going to be a tough meet once again," Fushimi said. "We can't control what the other teams are scoring, so I just hope the competition pushes our girls to improve our team score there. I just want to see more consistency, fewer mistakes and more confidence from our girls."
The Wolves scored a season-best 137.625 points while winning a quad meet Jan. 13 ahead of Hilliard Bradley (127.3), Olentangy Orange (118.075) and Hilliard Davidson (113.425).
"We've been working hard on our routines, making them more consistent and cleaning them up," Fushimi said. "Everyone is improving a little bit on their events and that's helped our team scores keep increasing. We're trying to work everyone into the lineup so they all can compete. We want to make sure we don't overwork them so that our scores can keep building up for the end of the season."
Jaclyn Turner won both the balance beam (9.2) and vault (9.05) on Jan. 13. Celeste Fushimi-Karns finished second on uneven bars (8.4) and in the all-around (34.85), third on beam (9.1) and vault (8.5) and fifth on floor exercise (8.85).
Kayla Rice placed second on vault (8.8), floor (8.875) and bars (8.4) and was third in the all-around (34.125). Bethany Lange finished second on bars (8.4) and was fourth on vault (8.4) and in the all-around (32.425).
Maddie Beal placed fourth on beam (8.5) and floor (8.475), and Katie Armstrong was fifth on beam (8.45)
"Jaclyn competed in only beam last year, but she's added a vault routine this year and she's doing a great job with both events," Fushimi said. "Celeste had a big day, getting her highest-ever scores on beam and all-around. It was nice to see so many of our girls hit their routines that night."
The Wolves are 3-0 in the OCC-Central Division and play host Wednesday, Jan. 29, to league opponent Liberty and DeSales.
"I'm really happy with where we're at right now," Fushimi said. "Olentangy Liberty is always tough competition, so we'll need to compete well to stay undefeated in the OCC."
Cardinals working toward improvement
Thomas was consistent in its first five meets, with its scores ranging from 125.85 to 126.95.
The Cardinals scored a season-best 126.95 to win a five-team meet Jan. 14 ahead of runner-up Liberty (123). Leah Carloni won bars (9.3) and the all-around (34.85), and Liesl Ludwig won floor (8.8).
Thomas also finished seventh (126.175) in the McGee Invitational on Jan. 18 at Coffman behind champion Mentor (141.35). Carloni was second on bars (9.025) and third on vault (9.1) and in the all-around (35.25).
"Our season is slowly but surely making headway," coach Marci Skeen said. "We are a very young team, but the girls are working so hard in the gym every day in practice. They continue to work hard on their skills and improve the difficulty in their routines."
The Cardinals, who are 0-3 in the OCC-Ohio, will compete Jan. 31 at league foe Olentangy, along with Buckeye Valley and league opponent Upper Arlington.
Skeen said the Cardinals are trying to improve their team score enough to qualify for the state meet for the fifth consecutive season.
The district meet is Feb. 22 at Kilbourne.
"It's still a while until the district meet and we have a lot of work to do in that time," Skeen said. "I know our team score does not reflect one of the top three to qualify to the state meet again for the fifth year in a row, but don't count us out yet. We're working hard and are doing our best every day."