State Gymnastics: FHS ready to compete against Ohio’s elite

By DAVE HANNEMAN
sTAFF WRITER
In the past 10 years, only two schools have beaten Brecksville in a high school gymnastics meet.
Rocky River Magnificat was one. Findlay was the other.
Friday at Hilliard Bradley High School, the Bees will be going for their 11th straight state championship and their 15th in the past 20 years. When it comes to Ohio prep gymnastics, Brecksville is the 1957-69 Celtics, the 1991-98 Bulls, the 1947-62 Yankees of the sport.
In the 2003 state gymnastics meet, Rocky River Magnificat finished first (145.300), Findlay second (143.325) and Brecksville third (142.900).
The Bees didn’t lose again — not in the regular season, the district tournament or at state — until Magnificat beat them 133.15 to 126.8 in a four-team meet on Jan. 8. Brecksville, reportedly, sat three of its starters as its 777-team winning streak ended.
“Normally, how all gymnastics teams do it, is if they’re in a tournament with 15 teams and they win it, they count it as a win against every other team so they 14-0,” said Findlay High coach Traci Dunn.
“They’re always strong, though. They have definitely earned their dues.”
Findlay and 10 other schools will be looking to see how they stack up against Brecksville when the team competition is held on Friday. Individual champions in each of the four events and the all-around standings will be decided on Saturday.
Nobody is giving Brecksville the championship trophy, not yet. But Alecia Farina, who won the state all-around title a year ago as a freshman, heads up another strong Brecksville team that is the odds-on favorite to add some more hardware to the trophy case.
Dethroning Brecksville isn’t an option for most teams. The key, Dunn says, is measuring yourself against a dynasty.
“You want to be there and see how well you do, see how you stack up,” Dunn said.
“We’re definitely looking to try for a top-five finish.”
Findlay, which won a third straight Three Rivers Athletic Conference and second straight district championship this season, will send a young team to Hilliard Bradley. Tiffany Crawford is the lone senior on the roster.
The Trojans are not an inexperienced group, though. Juniors Tori Cox and Maranda Butler were on last year’s team that finished fourth at state. Crawford and sophomores Lacey Thomas, Leah Thomas and Bridget Dunn competed in the spotlight of the state meet as well.
Experience can translate into higher degrees of difficulty that can add precious fractions to scores.
“You can increase the degree of difficulty. We just have to make sure we can do it in practice so we know it’s ready to go (at state),” Dunn said.
“We tried some things this past week at districts, and paid the price for not doing them earlier. But we have a couple more days, a couple of more practices to work on it.
“We’re starting to step it up on a couple of events, clean up some routines and trying to do some final touches.”
Dunn feels the vault and uneven bars are Findlay’s strongest events, then the balance beam and, surprisingly, floor exercises, an event that generally generates some of the highest scores.
“We just haven’t had the bonus tumbling I’d like us to have for this season,” Dunn said. “We’re young. Hopefully that’s something the girls will work on for next season.”
Rounding out Findlay’s state-meet team will be freshman Cassidy Pruitt
Cox will also compete in Saturday’s individual event competition in the floor, bars and in the all-around competition. Butler will compete Saturday in the vault and Pruitt on bars.

ALL-NORTHWEST DISTRICT — Tori Cox, Maranda Butler, Leah Thomas, Lacey Thomas, Cassidy Pruitt.
NORTHWEST DISTRICT SPORTSMANSHIP AWARDS — Bridget Dunn, Tiffany Crawford, Lacey Thomas, Leah Thomas.
Hanneman: 419-427-8408,
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