Worthington Kilbourne High School gymnastics coach Cindy Fushimi said it will be difficult for her team to defend its district championship.
The Wolves will play host to the district meet Feb. 22. Last season, they scored 140.625 points to hold off runner-up Dublin Coffman (138.925) for their first district title since 2000, but they have competed against the Shamrocks in two large meets in recent weeks and had a lower overall team score both times.
The Wolves finished second (138.2) behind Coffman (139.425) in the 11-team Kilbourne Invitational on Jan. 25 and placed second (139.55) behind the Shamrocks (142.2) in the 15-team Forest Hills Flip Fest on Feb. 1 at Cincinnati Turpin.
"Dublin Coffman's been scoring the highest team scores of anyone in our district all season, so they have to be considered the favorite to win district," Fushimi said. "It would take a very good day for us to beat them at district and it would be an amazing feeling to win district again, but the most important thing is that we finish in the top three to qualify for state. If we can make it back to state again, that will be an awesome accomplishment no matter where we finish."
Kilbourne is seeking its fourth state appearance in five years. Last year at state, the Wolves placed sixth (137.53) of 12 teams behind champion Brecksville-Broadview Heights (148.33).
The top three teams at district will compete at state Feb. 28 at Hilliard Bradley and the top eight finishers in each event and the all-around will advance to the individual state meet March 1 at Bradley.
The Wolves will be without senior Katie Armstrong, who broke an ankle Jan. 29.
"Katie's score on bars counted for us all of the time and we'll really miss having her out there," Fushimi said. "She hurt herself while tumbling and that just goes to show that you can't take anything for granted. Anything can happen on any given day."
Despite Armstrong's absence, the Wolves won the six-team OCC-Central Division meet Feb. 8 at Hilliard Darby.
Kilbourne scored 141.975 points finish ahead of Olentangy Liberty (132.55), Hilliard Davidson (122.95), Delaware (120.25), Dublin Scioto (115.5) and Westland (110.875).
With the victory, the Wolves clinched the overall OCC-Central title, which is determined by the combination of points earned from league duals and the league meet. They went 5-0 in league duals and totaled 24 points to finish ahead of Liberty (20, 4-1), Davidson (16, 3-2), Delaware (12, 2-3), Scioto (8, 1-4) and Westland (4, 0-5).
In the league meet, Allie Guist finished first on uneven bars (8.8) and in the all-around (35.625), placed second on vault (8.8), tied for third on floor exercise (9.025) and tied for fifth on balance beam (9.0).
Celeste Fushimi-Karns won floor (9.2), finished second in the all-around (35.6), placed third on vault (8.7) and fourth on bars (8.6) and beam (9.1).
Kayla Rice won beam (9.3), placed second on bars (8.75), finished third in the all-around (35.575), tied for third on floor (9.025) and tied for fourth on vault (8.5).
Jaclyn Turner won vault (9.2) and placed third on beam (9.15) and Sam Ingham placed second on beam (9.25).
"It felt awesome to win OCC and I think it shows that we're a really good team," Turner said. "A lot of people stepped up to help us put together our best score of the season so far. Allie had a great bar routine, Celeste did well on floor, Kayla had a good beam routine and I did well on vault."
Cardinals aiming for another trip to state
Thomas is bidding for its fifth consecutive state appearance.
Last season, the Cardinals placed third (136.125) at district and finished 10th (133.95) at state.
"It definitely would be a surprise to a lot of people if we do make it to state, but we've been ranked lower than this in past years and have made it anyway," coach Marci Skeen said. "We practice hard, but we're such a young team and it's just a matter of whether we can pull it all together on that day.
"Leah Carloni, Haley Carnahan and Liesl Ludwig have been scoring well consistently. We just need to find a strong fourth score on each event. Chandler Adamaitis can give us that on floor and vault, and another can come from Lexey Parish on beam. Bars are always a horrible mystery for us. We never know what's going to happen on bars."
The Cardinals finished fifth (131.825) in the six-team OCC-Ohio meet Feb. 8 at Darby behind Coffman (143.425), Grove City (137.75), Upper Arlington (136.8) and Olentangy (134.65) and ahead of Darby (128.3).
The Cardinals went 0-5 in league duals and totaled six points to tie Darby (6, 1-4) for fifth in the overall league standings behind Coffman (24, 5-0), UA (18, 4-1), Grove City (18, 3-2) and Olentangy (12, 2-3).
Carloni led the Cardinals in the league meet, tying for second on bars (9.1) and tying for fourth on beam (9.0).
"Obviously, we didn't do very well in our league dual matches," Skeen said. "We wanted to do better in the OCC, but the competition in our division is very good and, ultimately, the district meet is what matters the most."