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Tumbling takeoff

By GRADY TATE - gtate@newsexaminer.com

The Connersville High School gymnastics team is no stranger to looking out and seeing New Palestine and New Castle across from them on the mat on opening night.

In fact, that’s become a tradition inside the Connersville High School gymnasium on the second Tuesday in January.

Losing to both teams in that meet, however, is another story.

In the opener for all three teams, New Palestine finished with a team score of 98.275, followed by New Castle at 96.735 at the meet.

And Connersville?

Well, the Lady Spartans wound up at 94.325, giving the team and 0-2 start to the season.

“The girls were throwing their skills tonight, but they weren’t really hitting them the way they are capable of,” Connersville head coach Joann Borders said of her charges. “To fix that, the girls just really need to come in and work a little harder.”

In total, five schools were represented at the meet, as Union County’s Hayley Kottka was in attendance, as was the duo of Cassie Zehr and Joshlyn Burton from Pendleton Heights. This, too, was traditional for this meet.

In fact, Kottka will be attending each of Connersville’s meets this season, just as she did as a freshman last season.

CHS’ strongest event of the night was the floor exercise, the team earning a 25.575 score. That mark beat both New Castle and New Palestine. Against the Lady Dragons, Allison Hoffman was third (8.375), Kenzy Lynch finished in a tie for fourth (8.325), Katelyn Burris was fifth (8.3) and Delaynee Hall wound up sixth (8.025).

Hoffman was second against New Castle, Lynch was fifth and Burris finished sixth.

Connersville also beat NPHS in the vault event, finishing with a team score of 25.175. Ali Sargent was second in that dual with a score of 8.6, and Hoffman was fourth at 8.375.

On the balance beam, the Spartans fell short to the Dragons, but eclipsed the Lady Trojans by a score of 22.4 to 21.05. In the tilt with NCHS, Hoffman was second (7.725) on the beam, followed by Burris (7.575) and Sargent (7.1).

Other CHS girls placing on the night included: (against New Palestine) Burris (5th, bars; 5th, beam); (against New Castle) Sargent (tie 3rd, vault), Hoffman (6th, vault) and Burris (6th, bars).

Kottka earned two spots in the top-six against both teams. The sophomore was third with her vault against the Dragons and fifth versus NC. She was second on the bars against both teams with an 8.1. 

The night started on a tough note for Connersville, as the team lost one of its competitors for the night. 

“Right off the bat, in warm up, Brooke Sudhoff hurt herself, which took her out of the equation,” Borders described. “Had she been a part of things tonight, perhaps we could have scored a little higher as a team than we did.

“But when it comes down to it, the girls just need to work a little harder. They need to work on finishing their skills and adding a little more to what they’re doing.”

In spite of the 0-2 start, the CHS coach saw some positives from her charges right out of the gate. 

“One thing that I really liked from the team tonight was that they were very supportive of each other, encouraging one another during the routines,” the CHS mentor said. I do think that the girls worked hard at the meet tonight, which was a positive.”

“I just need to get them to work a little harder in practice, which would allow them to do some things that the didn’t do tonight, things that I know they can do.”

Connersville plays host to Rushville tonight.




1. Cassie Zehr 9.15; 2. Ali Sargent 8.6; 3. Hayley Kottka 8.475; 4. Allison Hoffman 8.375; 5. Grace Shanahan 8.25; 6. Alyse Rickey 8.225.

Uneven Bars

1. Shanahan 8.65; 2. Kottka 8.1; 3. Zehr 7.575; 4. Rickey 7.475; 5. Katelyn Burris 7.45; 6. Emma Poag 7.25.

Balance Beam

1. Zehr 9.25; 2. Kennedy Garrett 8.95; 3. Shanahan 8.4; 4. Hoffman 7.725; 5. Burris 7.575; 6. Rickey 7.55.

Floor Exercise

1. Zehr 9.25; 2. Shanahan 9.125; 3. Hoffman 8.95; 4. (tie) Kenzy Lynch 8.325; 4. (tie) Garrett 8.325; 5. Burris 8.3; 6. Delaynee Hall 8.025.




1. Samantha Ward 9.375; 2. Cassie Zehr 9.15; 3. (tie) Ali Sargent 8.6; 3. (tie) Riley Smith 8.6; 4. Tristan Barr 8.55; 5. Hayley Kottka 8.475; 6. Allison Hoffman 8.375.

Uneven Bars

1. Ward 8.625; 2. Kottka 8.1; 3. Barr 7.7; 4. Emma Troxell 7.625; 5. Zehr 7.575; 6. Katelyn Burris 7.45.

Balance Beam 

1. Zehr 9.25; 2. Hoffman 7.725; 3. Burris 7.515; 4. Troxell 7.3; 5. Sargent 7.1; 6. Ward 6.975.

Floor Exercise 

1. Zehr 9.25; 2. Hoffman 8.95; 3. Smith 8.4; 4. Taylor Snell 8.35; 5. Kenzy Lynch 8.325; 6. Burris 8.3.


1. Zehr 35.2; 2. Ward 32.575; 3. (tie) Burris 31.225; 3. (tie) 31.225; 4. KL