Carroll’s core four looking for state gymnastics title

Carroll's core four: Ella Smith, Jill Hoffman, McKinley Carroll and Ashelynn Steinke. (By Blake Sebring of

When the gymnastics season started, Carroll coach Rosemary Scheele had no idea it would end like this.

The No. 4-ranked Chargers are the Fort Wayne area’s best hope for a state championship Saturday at Ball State’s Worthen Arena. Sure, everyone expected Carroll to be pretty good this season — including Scheele, but what’s unexpected is how the Chargers have gotten near the top.

Traditionally one of the area’s deepest teams, the Chargers have stuck with their core four — senior Jill Hoffmann, junior Ashelynn Steinke and sophomores Ella Smith and McKinley Carroll. The Chargers do have plenty of other talent, but these four have taken over and haven’t left much competition time for their teammates.

“All four of them are really strong gymnasts with good attitudes and they work really well together,” Scheele said after last Saturday’s Huntington North Regional title. “That’s just important. Ella didn’t have a really good meet today, but she pulled it out for us on floor. That’s just the kind of stuff they do for us every meet. Somebody may not have their best, but somebody else does. It’s really nice to have the four girls who know what their capabilities are and that any one of them can do it at any time.”

The No. 4-ranked Chargers scored 111.075 in the regional compared to No. 1 Chesterton’s 113.975 and No. 2 Valparaiso’s 113.925 and a 112.175 by No. 3 Columbus East. Carroll will need its best performance of the season, which the Chargers don’t think they’ve produced yet.

The core four can still improve their score!

“I love it because we all know each other pretty well, we all get along really well and we know how each other works and what we need to do,” Hoffmann said. “We know when one person doesn’t have their best meet we can pick each other up easily because we’re all capable of doing it.”

Though all four compete all-around, one interesting note is that each has a specialty where they get to take over the leadership role. Hoffmann loves bars, Steinke is great on the vault, Carroll can dominate the beam and Smith is very strong on the floor. Everyone pushes each other, and the Chargers who aren’t competing are always hungry to earn one of the four spots.

No. 8 Homestead and No. 11 Bishop Dwenger will also represent Fort Wayne in the team competition. Those two teams may not have the same capability of winning the team title this year, but the Spartans and Saints have plenty of competitors capable of winning individual titles.

The last individual champions from Fort Wayne in each event are Concordia Lutheran’s Hannah Osborn on the floor in 2007; Bishop Dwenger’s Jeanna Van Hoey on the beam in 2007; Concordia Lutheran’s Brannon Springer on the bars in 2007; Bishop Dwenger’s Niccole Van Hoey on the vault in 2002; and Jeanna Van Hoey in the all-around in 2005.