Hot start helps Dwenger retain title Carroll, Homestead also advance to Friday’s regional.

Bishop Dwenger always seems to be the favorite for the gymnastics sectional title because the Saints have talent, more depth than anyone else and experience. They also have the perfect mindset to avoid any upsets.

The No. 6-ranked Saints won their 10th title in a row on Saturday, taking the Concordia Lutheran Sectional with a 112.150 to No. 12 Carroll’s 110.275 and No. 9 Homestead’s 108.325. Host No. 14 Concordia finished fourth with a 106.750 but did not qualify for Friday’s Huntington North Regional. The top three teams and top six individuals in each event advance to the regional. The regional was originally scheduled for Saturday but has been switched to Friday evening.

Huntington North was fifth with a 102.525, Northrop sixth with a season-best 102.300 and Snider seventh at 95.825.

After getting to start on vault and the floor, the Saints held a commanding 57.125-54.735 lead over Carroll and 54.375 for Homestead. The Saints are so used to the big stage they attacked instead of defending, while everyone else was trying to be careful. Bishop Dwenger had more energy than every other team combined.

“In this sport, you have to do that,” Nix said. “Throughout the season, you don’t want to peak too soon, so you are still kind of figuring out the routines and getting them down pat, and as you get along farther into the season you feeling comfortable with your routines so you are able to attack.”

Bishop Dwenger’s fourth scores – which don’t count in the team score – during the first two events would have counted for any of the other 14 teams competing. Jenna Farris scored a 9.2 on the vault, and Rachel Landstoffer a 9.2 on the floor.

“I think the coaches gave us a good talk right before that we need to come as a team and just cheer on every single person in every event that happens,” senior Amy Weilbaker said. “You could just tell that the chemistry really clicked today, and we really saw each other like a family.

“It was nice starting on floor and vault because those were our two strongest events. Usually we score higher in those than the other two. We got everything started and the momentum. It was definitely one of the best meets we’ve had all year.”

Weilbaker won the floor exercise with a 9.725 followed by teammate Elaine Cornewell with a 9.6. Carroll freshman McKinley Carroll and Weilbaker shared the vault title with 9.5s, with Cornewell, Homestead’s Catherine Milne and Concordia’s E’Lycia Early tying for third with 9.45s. Early edged Milne on the bars as both scored 9.45s and Bishop Dwenger’s Sophia Wright-Turflinger was third with a 9.40. Cornewell dominated on the beam with a 9.75, followed by Homestead’s Katelynn Chaffee with a 9.40 and Wright-Turflinger with a 9.275.

Wright-Turflinger won the all-around with a 37.475 followed by Cornewell at 37.30, Early at 37.125 and Milne at 37.025. It’s the closest all-around competition at the sectional in the last 10 years. Carroll’s Jillian Hoffman was fifth at 36.90 followed by teammates Carroll at 36.675 and Savannah Shearer at 36.45. <br>

<i> For more on gymnastics, follow Blake Sebring on Twitter at @blakesebring and on Facebook at Blake Sebring. </i>