The New Palestine High School gymnastics team went from not having won a sectional title since 2006 to being viewed as the favorite this season.
Pressure? Not according to coach Jenny Musselman.
“I think it helped their confidence,” she said of her athletes.
The Dragons backed up their coach’s faith in them Saturday afternoon by winning the sectional they were hosting with 106.625 points. Franklin Central (103.125) and Noblesville (100.225) also qualified for Friday’s Lafayette Jeff Regional. The top two teams advance to the state championship.
“We knew at the beginning of the season we’d have a target on our back,” Musselman said. “I set the bar very high for them, and they expect to come close to my expectations. I’ve told them I expect to win not only sectional, but the regional.”
It would be New Palestine’s first regional title. It has finished third the past two seasons, just missing out on a trip to the state finals.
Saturday, Kenzi Hoffman won the bars, vault, floor and all-around; Kate Fee won the beam and was third on the floor; Shelly Huesman was second on the bars and Annabelle Dockins third on the vault. Ciarra Hough, Maddie Wallace and Kylie Zehner also competed for the Dragons.
“(New Palestine) went to state (two) other times (in 2004 and ’05) but has never won a regional,” Musselman said. “Ultimately we just want to go to state as a team, but to make this team unique, I’d love to win the regional. That would set us apart.”