King of the sectional
CHESTERTON — An expression of tears is usually reserved for an athletes’ or team’s performance in a game or event, ranging from jubilant to bitter.
South Central freshman Makenna King got her tears out of the way before Saturday’s Chesterton Gymnastics Sectional where she was the lone representative for the Satellites and competing in a meet with some of the region’s most accomplished gymnasts.
When King was informed that performance in the four events was good enough to earn her a first-place finish in the all-around and a spot in next week’s Valparaiso Regional, she had no more tears left to shed.
“It was actually a big relief,” said King, whose 38.775 score was almost three quarters of a point better than freshman Chloe Amanatidis (38.025) of Lake Central, and almost a point higher than Chesterton senior Jordan Bush (37.875).
“All I could do was cry because I was so scared and nervous about the event,” she said. “I never thought I could do this.”
Fear, however, appeared non-existent from King, who scored a sole first place in the beam (9.775), where she bettered Chesterton junior Sophie Hunzelman and tied with Amanatidis for first in the floor event (9.625) in edging Bush and Valparaiso’s Whitney McKeon (9.6).
King finished in a two-way tie for third in the vault with Bush (9.675), missing first by just a half point, and scored a third-place showing in the bars, finishing only a half point behind Chesterton junior Sophie Hunzelman (9.750), but further off the pace set by Chesterton sophomore phenom Mia Pak (9.99).
“There were so many talented girls out here,” King said. “I’m pretty proud of myself and I am very happy with the outcome. I know a lot of the girls in club; I know Jordan Bush and have learned a lot from her. She’s been a role model.”
As far as surprises went on Saturday, King said her performance on the beam left her amazed.
“Who knew that I would ever win beam?” she said. “I tried to stay focused because so much can happen up there. I feel the most confident on the bars because I like to swing around. Floor is fun, though I am really not a good dancer. I like tumbling.”
King, who got into gymnastics just five years ago, followed an academic route into the sport while observing her peers having so much fun.
“All my friends were doing gymnastics on the playground and doing handsprings,” she said. “So I decided to get a library book and just teach myself, though I am really not a book worm.”
Satellites coach Stacey Lanterman, a Cincinnati native, a longtime gymnast and coach, but first at the high school level, said, “I knew Makenna previously, so I knew the kind of girl I was getting,” she said. “She is amazing and she is very smart. She is hard working and has a lot of ability. I’m very excited for her because she worked so hard. She deserves this.”
Lanterman has had a positive influence on King.
“Coach helps me a lot with mental focus, eating right and with the skills, because she has those gymnastics skills,” she said. “She’s a very good coach.”
King is remaining confident that she can repeat her performance at Valparaiso and advance to state.
“I just want to maintain my scores and advance,” she said. “I am confident that I can do that.”
In the all-around, Michigan City freshman Sarah Weber finished 16th (32.975) and Wolves senior Riley Plummer finished 22nd (30.000), while La Porte freshmen Ella Schable (30.475) and Rylee Stephany (30.425) placed 20th and 21st, respectively.
1. South Central’s Makenna King (38.775)
16. Michigan City’s Sarah Weber (32.975)
20. La Porte’s Ella Schable (30.475)