By Adam Turer, Enquirer contributor
Only 8.425 points separated the first-place team from the fifth-place team at the Cincinnati High School Gymnastics Championships last weekend.
The pressure ramps up even more this weekend, when those teams compete at the district meet for a chance to advance to state. Only the top two teams from the 31 competing on Saturday at Lakota East will move on to the state tournament at Hilliard Bradley High School on March 3-4.
Several local teams head into districts with plenty of momentum, most notably Lakota East. Not only are the Thunderhawks coming off of a city championship, which they won at Miamisburg last weekend, but they get to host the district meet.
Senior Kiley Lovejoy and junior Lindsey Kluesener led Lakota East to a winning team score of 130.8. The Thunderhawks were followed by Oak Hills, Anderson, Turpin, and Lakota West. The Firebirds, who finished in fifth place, scored 122.375. That sets up an ultra-competitive district meet.
Versailles is the favorite to win the district, but the coveted second-place finish and accompanying state berth is up for grabs. Districts could be even closer than the city championship meet was. Anderson coach Stacey Bailey believes that the top five teams at the district meet could be separated by as little as a point or two.
"Second place could be taken by several teams that have been neck-and-neck all season long," said Bailey. "2016-17 has been a very competitive season in both Cincinnati and Dayton for high school gymnastics. Ultimately, it creates a very exciting situation for the district championships."
No individual enters the district meet with as much momentum as Anderson's Casey Gittelman. The senior won the vault, bars, floor, and all-around at the city championships. She placed sixth on bars at state last year, 20th in floor, and 18th in the all-around. Her performance on the bars was the best of any local gymnast at the 2016 state meet. Expectations are high once again as the senior aims to make the 2017 state meet her final competition.
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