Not everything was back to normal at the Carroll Gymnastics Invite on Saturday.
For one thing, the event wasn't even supposed to be held by the Chargers – they agreed to play host when East Noble decided it couldn't handle an event with five full gymnastics teams. And there still weren't any parents or friends allowed in the stands.
But the Homestead gymnasts raised their first trophy of the season with a team score of 106.825. The Chargers were second at 104.725, followed by DeKalb (100.875), Huntington North (92.375) and East Noble (84.250).
Homestead coach Jodi Hardwick said she made a few late changes to the lineup, but the team was buoyed by all-around winner Gina Zirille, a sophomore who was the top performer on the vault, uneven bars and balance beam and who tied Carroll's Julia Goodine for first place in the floor routine with a score of 9.525. Zirille's all-around score of 37.925 is still a little off her career best (and Homestead program record) 38.550, but only Mia Pak, the Chesterton senior who finished third as an individual at last year's state finals, has posted a higher score so far in this new season.
The Spartans received an extra boost from sophomore Kendyl Bond, who finished third in the all-around with a score of 34.300. She placed third on the bars (8.550), tied for sixth on the beam (8.450) despite coming off toward the end of her routine and tied for fifth in the floor routine (9.050).
“Kendyl did a great job today. She worked so hard over the summer, she got a new bar skill. She got a harder tumbling pass on the floor,” Hardwick said. “She still placed on beam, even with a fall. She's stepped it up, it was awesome.”
Homestead freshman Allison Sierks took fourth in the balance beam with a score of 8.800 and fourth in the floor routine with a score of 9.100, and Hardwick said she will likely be an all-around competitor later in the season.
Goodine, a senior, took second place on the vault, bars and beam to go along with her first-place tie with Zirille on floor. It was a welcome return for a gymnast who missed large sections of her junior season due to injury. Her teammate Sami Givens, who took third in the vault with a score of 9.150, is also back in the lineup after being out of action last season.
“I honestly feel stronger than I've ever felt,” Goodine said. “I got that extra conditioning, when I was hurt. I got a lot stronger when I still wasn't doing anything. I've felt a lot better this year than I have in past years.
“It feels really good, because I've missed it, sitting there and watching everybody else. I was happy for them, but I was like, 'I want to do it!'”
DeKalb senior Sarah Boyd and junior Lauren Blythe took fourth and fifth place in the all-around, respectively. Carroll junior Bella Hoogland was sixth in the all-around and place fourth on beam.