Tough ending for King

March 3, 2019

VALPARAISO — A rough day had an even rougher ending for South Central’s Makenna King at Saturday’s Valparaiso Regional.

The Satellites freshman gymnast, who fell twice on balance beam and once on floor exercise, hit the back of her head on the vaulting table as she came up from her landing on her final event. She was moving gingerly afterward with an ice pack on her neck and the back of her head.

“She’s OK, she’s just in a lot of pain,” coach Stacey Lanterman said. “The way she landed, her head was under the vault, so when she stood up, she came up very quickly, not knowing where she is, and hit her head. She’s had back issues previously, so that doesn’t help.”

It added injury to insult for King, who failed to qualify for the state finals in any events after winning the prior week’s sectional.

“It was just a rough meet. She just struggled,” Lanterman said. “It’s her first time ever coming to a sectional or regional. It’s much different (than club). It’s very loud. People are screaming and cheering. She had a lot of pressure coming in here. It was kind of overwhelming.”

King labored from the outset, opening with an 8.925 on uneven bars. The one-point deduction for the falls on balance beam left her with an 8.125, and the 0.5 deduction on floor exercise resulted in an 8.9. Despite the short landing on vault, she earned a 9.45, 0.05 short of the automatic qualifying standard for state in the event.

“We were talking throughout the meet about it just being one event, you’ve got to pull yourself together and forget about that,” Lanterman said. “It just didn’t happen. She’s 14. It’s a lot. This is all new for her. I’m proud of her. She didn’t quit. She didn’t throw a fit and say I’m done. She went out and did her best.”

King, who will compete in her club state meet in two weeks, is unsure on her plans regarding high school gymnastics going forward.

“I know she had fun,” Lanterman said. “It was a great experience for her, to see how it all works. She has three more years to do it if she chooses.”

Defending state champion Chesterton (114.45) led the field of team qualifiers, followed by Lake Central (110.875), which advanced for the first time, and Portage (107.55). Chesterton’s Jordan Bush won the all-around with a 38.475.