Milne hoping to ride hot streak to state Homestead gymnast is also an accomplished equestrian.

As Catherine Milne flipped and twirled around the uneven bars Saturday at the Concordia Sectional, her teammates rose to their feet. They sensed the Homestead sophomore was putting forth a special effort.

Milne scored a 9.425 to finish second and help the Spartans finish third in the team standings. They head to Friday night’s Huntington North Regional with Bishop Dwenger and Carroll in the team competition.

Milne, 15, is used to appearing before judges in athletic competitions. Besides competing in gymnastics, she also rides in hunter jumper events with her horse, Annie, an appendix quarterhorse which is stabled at Free Wind Farm on Bass Road. Though she previously owned a pony for many years, Milne has owned Annie for a year, and part of the challenge is learning about the horse and herself so she can smooth out their performance.

“It’s kind of like gymnastics where you go for the perfect score and it’s not timed,” Milne said. “I think it’s more the motivation that gets me for both of them. It’s a very different body shape in horse back riding than gymnastics. You have to flex your feet (with) heels down and bent legs and, if anything, a little bit arched. It’s the opposite for gymnastics.”

But there’s still mental, physical and emotional discipline.

“Horseback riding is more complicated because you are supposed to make it look like you are doing nothing,” Milne said. “In gymnastics, you have to work on pointing your feet and people know when it’s wrong. In horseback riding, only the trained judges see that, basically.”

She competes throughout the summer while also trying to improve her gymnastics skills. To her mind, it beats being on the tennis court with the rest of her family. They love going to the net, and she loves going to the gym.

“I’m the family oddball,” she said. “They put me in it when I was a littler, but I preferred to do the fun drills and not the actual playing.” <br>

<center> Saints favorite again </center><br>

Bishop Dwenger will be favored to win the regional team title for the seventh year in a row and 17th time in the last 18 years, though Carroll and Homestead are ready for another chance to dethrone the Saints.

The top three teams and top six individuals in each event advance to the state finals March 11 at Ball State. The regional starts at 6 p.m., and tickets cost $7. The event will be held in the Huntington North Fieldhouse, which is Door No. 28.

Bishop Dwenger was ranked No. 6, Homestead No. 9 and Carroll No. 12 in the final state coaches poll of the regular season. Adding to the regional mix is Elkhart Central, which tied with Homestead for No. 9 in the last poll and won the Lakeland Sectional with a 109.625. Bishop Dwenger scored a 112.150 in the Concordia Sectional followed by Carroll’s 110.275 and Homestead with a 108.325.

Besides the team competitors, individual competitors from the Fort Wayne area will be Concordia senior E’Lycia Early in the all-around and sophomore Courtney Welker on the beam, DeKalb’s Shiloh Miller on the floor and vault and freshman Kristen Azzue on the beam. <br>

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