Gymnastics: Olentangy Berlin Bears left wanting more after second state meet

Scott Hennen
ThisWeek group
Berlin's Stephanie Balthaser reacts following her bars routine at the state individual meet March 6 at Hilliard Bradley. The sophomore tied for 20th in the all-around (35.775), placed 21st on bars (8.75), tied for 22nd on vault (9.1) and tied for 27th on floor (8.95).

The Olentangy Berlin gymnastics team took a relaxed approach after it qualified for its second consecutive state meet March 5 at Hilliard Bradley.

The Bears went on to finish 10th (138.25) of 12 squads behind champion Brecksville-Broadview Heights (148.675), which won its 21st consecutive title. Last season, Berlin finished seventh (140.0).

“We went in laid back and with less pressure so the girls would have fun and do well,” coach Jen Hedrick said. “We found that didn’t help them at all. They might do better with some pressure and with something on the line.

“We didn’t have a bad meet. We wanted to have a meet where everyone hit, but they didn’t. We’re thrilled to have a season and make it back to state, but we wish we would have done better.”

Sophomore Stephanie Balthaser tied for 20th in the all-around (35.775) in the individual state meet March 6 at Bradley. She also placed 21st on uneven bars (8.75), tied for 22nd on vault (9.1) and tied for 27th on floor exercise (8.95).

Senior Abby Marks was 32nd on bars (8.225).

The Bears earned their state berth by tying Dublin Jerome for the district championship with a score of 141.125 on Feb. 27 at Worthington Kilbourne.

Berlin also won its second consecutive OCC-Cardinal Division championship Feb. 20 at Thomas Worthington. Balthaser was second in the all-around (35.85), while junior Paige Dargatz was sixth (34.475) and junior Elise Hedrick was 11th (33.175).

“With the exception of going to state, I couldn’t be happier than to win the league,” coach Hedrick said. “We had a good group of seniors and we have so much depth going back. The girls already are making goals for next season, so we expect to be competitive again.”

Liberty sophomore Hailee Cobb competes in the state individual meet March 6 at Bradley. She tied for 20th on floor (program-record 9.125), placed 31st on vault (8.85) and finished 32nd in the all-around (35.025).

•Sophomore Hailee Cobb became the first Liberty gymnast to compete in the all-around at the state individual meet since 2011 thanks to an eighth-place finish (35.675) at district. That earned her the last state-qualifying berth. 

At state, Cobb tied for 20th on floor (program-record 9.125), placed 31st on vault (8.85) and finished 32nd in the all-around (35.025). 

“I didn’t have my best meet of the season, but I reached some of my goals, like beating my school record on floor,” Cobb said. “Even though I didn’t do as well as I wanted, I’m proud I was one of the gymnasts in Ohio that got to go.” 

Cobb scored 35.275 in the OCC-Capital meet Feb. 20 at Thomas as Liberty placed second (132.425) behind Kilbourne (133.1). Liberty went 6-0 in league duals and Kilbourne went 5-1, but the teams shared the OCC-Capital title with 26 points. 

At district, the Patriots finished seventh (133.1) as the top three teams advanced to state. 

Also competing in the all-around at district were senior Katie DiSalle, junior Kenna Henry and sophomores Sam Penzone and Camryn Thompson. 

Juniors Kalista Sampson and Alana Willette and freshman Sophie Sampson are others eligible to return. 

“It was (a change) to have to wear masks, and social distancing was something that ... gymnasts are not used to, but I’m very proud of my team for really stepping up when others were down, making each practice fun and challenging each other to work harder,” Cobb said. “We really pushed each other, which really helped us win OCCs.” 

—Jarrod Ulrey 

•Most of Olentangy’s roster is eligible to return, but the Braves graduate their top finisher from both the OCC-Cardinal and district meets in Caroline Hise.

Their only senior, Hise finished 18th on vault (8.9) and tied for 24th on floor (8.625) at district, leading the Braves to 130.7 points and 10th place as 24 teams scored.

Hise also finished sixth on vault (8.65) and ninth in the all-around (33.425) in the league meet.

Sophomore Anna McCrea tied for 24th on balance beam (8.65) at district and placed 35th in the all-around (32.7). She leads a group of expected returnees that includes classmates Emilee Baumann, Jordan Dorst and Courtney Wells.

—Dave Purpura

Orange fell short of reaching state with a shorthanded lineup that was missing one of its top performers in junior Molly Wheeler.

“We battled some injuries and we lost Molly Wheeler for (district) because of COVID reasons, and she was one of our top performers,” said coach Amanda Gaylor, whose team finished 12th (127.925) at district. “We have had some adjustments, and it has been a bit of a rebuilding year for us. We only lost two seniors, so we have potential to do good things this year.”

Wheeler led the Pioneers in the OCC-Central meet Feb. 20 at Thomas, finishing ninth in the all-around (32.725).

Senior Grace Ritterspach was 13th in the all-around (32.175), and senior Emma Wood was 17th (31.675).

—Scott Hennen

sports@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSports

BERLIN

OCC-Cardinal standings: Berlin (28, 6-0), Hilliard Darby (24, 5-1), Dublin Jerome (20, 4-2), Olentangy (18, 3-3), Thomas Worthington (10, 2-4), Marysville (10, 1-5), Central Crossing (4, 0-5)

Seniors lost: Kennedy Jesenovec, Abby Marks and Madison Nietfeld

Key returnees: Stephanie Balthaser, Paige Dargatz and Elise Hedrick

Postseason: Tied for first (141.125) at district, 10th (138.25) at state behind champion Brecksville-Broadview Heights (148.675)

OLENTANGY

Senior lost: Caroline Hise

Key returnees: Emilee Baumann, Jordan Dorst, Anna McCrea and Courtney Wells

Postseason: 10th (130.7) at district behind co-champions Berlin and Jerome (141.125)

LIBERTY

OCC-Capital standings: Liberty (26, 6-0), Worthington Kilbourne (26, 5-1), Hilliard Davidson (20, 4-2), Lancaster (16, 3-3), Dublin Scioto (12, 2-4), Delaware (8, 1-5), Big Walnut (4, 0-6)

Seniors lost: Katie DiSalle, Lauren Jones and Alexa Napier 

Key returnees: Hailee Cobb, Kenna Henry, Samantha Penzone, Camryn Thompson and Alana Willette 

Postseason: Seventh (133.1) at district behind co-champions Berlin and Jerome (141.125) 

ORANGE

OCC-Central standings: Dublin Coffman (24, 4-0), Upper Arlington (18, 4-1), Hilliard Bradley (18, 3-2), Orange (12, 2-2), Grove City (8, 1-4), Westerville Central (4, 0-5)

Seniors lost: Grace Ritterspach and Emma Wood

Key returnees: Layne Petrilla and Molly Wheeler

Postseason: 12th (127.925) at district behind co-champions Berlin and Jerome (141.125)