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Varsity Gymnastics · Sikora, Froncek lead Devils to state berth

By: Brian Dulik

Obtained From: Medina Gazette

Alexx Sikora was a fourth-grader the last time a Brunswick gymnast qualified for the state meet, and she was in nursery school when the Blue Devils’ team made its most recent trip. On Saturday, Sikora put an end to both of those droughts. The senior earned honors with a sparkling performance in the floor exercise and helped Brunswick’s team finish fifth at the West Geauga District, claiming berths at both days of the championship meet. “It’s just so cool knowing that I’ll be going to state in my senior year with my entire team,” a beaming Sikora said. “Having not qualified before, it feels really good that all of the hard work has paid off. I am so happy that our gymnastics team will be recognized as one of the best in Ohio.”

Sikora finished fifth on the floor with a 9.275 — equaling her Medina County season-high score at the West Geauga Sectional — and grabbed the 16th and final state bid on the balance beam with a 8.95. Blue Devils junior Jessica Froncek also will compete at Hilliard Bradley in two events, while Medina freshman Lauren Romano and Brunswick freshman Hannah Burk qualified in one apiece. It will mark the state debut for each athlete. The Blue Devils’ last team berth occurred in 2003, while Jen Bruce was their last individual qualifier in 2008. They also are just the second county squad to advance since 2008. “Everything that we went through — all of the injuries, and girls going in and out of the lineup — led to that moment,” Sikora said. “I made sure that every one of my teammates knew how happy and proud I am.” Froncek was 12th on the uneven parallel bars with an 8.925 and 13th on the vault with a 9.15.The varsity rookie also scored a team-best 35.15 in the allaround, where Sikora posted a 34.925 and Burk had a 34.4. Those lofty numbers propelled Brunswick to a 138.125 team score, which was nearly five full points ahead of Solon in the race for the last spot at state.

Defending champion Brecksville, Magnificat, Mentor and Berea-Midpark finished one through four, as expected. “I was disappointed that I fell on the floor, but I tried to execute the best I could on the bars and vault,” Froncek said. “I’m happy for myself, but I’m really excited that the team made it to state. We knew we could do it if everybody stayed calm and had fun.” Sikora had mathematically clinched her state spot heading into the final rotation of the six-hour meet, but Burk was in limbo until long after the last competitor dismounted from the uneven parallel bars. Burk wound up winning a tiebreaker — the lead judge’s scorecard — for 16th place over Mentor’s Caitlin Coode with an 8.85. “This was such a big goal for me, and I’m so excited about it,” Burk said. “I actually wasn’t that nervous when I was competing, but it was tough waiting for the scores on the bars and for our team. I tried to calm down, but it wasn’t easy. It was worth it, though, when we heard our names called.”

Sectional beam champ Romano was 14th in the event with a 9.075, but that placement was misleading. Her routine was clean yet took place before the scores suspiciously inflated in the afternoon, much to the anger of veteran coaches. “It’s still kind of unreal, going to state as a freshman, but I’m real happy to be doing it,” Romano said. “I stayed calm through all of my routine and didn’t rush anything. I just kept telling myself that if I did what I worked on in practice, I would be fine. It’s very exciting.” Highland senior Cassie Stahl joined Sikora as three-time individual district participants from the county.

Medina seniors Izzy Barnes and Abbie Nagucki, and Bees juniorDanielleKendeltookpart in theirthird district meets with the team. Stahl finished 30th on the beam, uncharacteristically taking a fall en route to an 8.25. “It was definitely fun being here for the final time,” she said. “You get tired sometimes waiting around all day to compete, but it happens and you have to handle it better than I did.” Wadsworth sophomore Hannah Daulbaugh placed 17th on the floor with an 8.9, making her the first alternate for state. She also was 23rd in the all-around with a 34.5 and remained in contention in both events from start to finish. “I’m really excited thatI pulled everything off at a big meet,” the two-time district qualifier said. “I ran hard and blocked as well as I could on the floor, which felt great. I’m getting closer and I was much more comfortable today, so I feel confident that I can make it to state as an upperclassman.” Buckeye sophomores Tayla Thome and Sammy Theis also made their second straight appearances at districts. Thome was 28th on the bars and Theis finished 32nd on the floor. “It was an amazing feeling, having everyone cheering for you inthis (filledto-capacity) gym,” Thome said. “It’s kind of upsetting knowing that was our final meet until next year.” Theis agreed, saying, “It’s been such a great season and today was so much fun, I’m sad to see it end. Tay and will work as hard as we can to come back next year, and hopefully go farther.” Brunswick junior Camryn Scott counted team scores in every event,as did Sikora and Burk. Seniors Nicole Pryatel and Kaylee Gordon, junior Megan Trefz, and sophomores Paige Scharschmidt and Tiffany Cubic also are headed to state for coach Jamie Woelfl’s squad.