by Beau Wicker
Logansport gymnastics coach Dannan Mordenti wanted to make sure history did not repeat itself.
Mordenti was a senior gymnast for the No. 5-ranked Berries in 2006 when they missed advancing to the state finals by .4 of a point.
“My senior year we missed by four-tenths of a point. It was devastating. It was very devastating as a gymnast,” she said. “I pushed the girls and said, ‘You want to be there, you want to do the best you can, you want to get there as a team,’ because it is devastating when you miss by that much.”
Instead of being devastated, the No. 10 Berries devastated their opponents at the Lafayette Jeff Regional last Friday, winning the championship by 3.6 points over runner-up No. 9 New Palestine.
“Now I get to celebrate through them, and I’m so proud of each and every one of them for stepping up and doing what they needed to do,” Mordenti said. “There were some teams there that were going to put pressure on us, and some of those teams we haven’t seen throughout the season, and that was a good thing for us to get out of our comfort zone and get out there and show them what we can do.”
The Berries will compete at the state finals on Saturday at Worthen Arena at Ball State University in Muncie. The opening ceremonies take place at 12:30 p.m., with competition starting at 1 p.m.
It’s the Berries’ first-ever state finals appearance as a team after they claimed their first-ever regional title in the sport.
The Berries are led this season by a pair of freshmen, Kelley Platt and Emily Pomasl. The dynamic duo have placed 1-2 in the all-around at the North Central Conference, sectional and regional meets.
The two have grown up in gymnastics together and say they have a sister-like bond.
“We’ve been competing together since we were 5 and we’ve been friends since we were 5,” Pomasl said.
“We’re with each other 24/7,” Platt added. “We do club and we do high school and go to school together, so we’re with each other from 7 in the morning until 9 o’clock at night.”
Both compete in club gymnastics as Level 9 gymnasts for the Kokomo Flipsters. Pomasl is set to compete at club state next weekend, while Platt is sitting out the club season due to stress fracture to her right ankle.
“I was not really healthy at all this season,” Platt said. “Next year I’ll definitely be competing back in club.”
Platt added she’s at 70 to 80 percent with her ankle injury but that it doesn’t bother her at meets due to adrenaline.
Gymnasts need a top six finish in the all-around or each individual event to reach the podium at state.
“My goals are to at least place on one event,” Platt said. “I don’t care which event it is, I just want to place on something.”
Added Pomasl: “I just want to do my best and want my team to do their best. ... I’m way less nervous than I was for regionals because now we’re finally here, it’s just whatever happens at state.”
Platt has recorded the eighth highest score in the state in the all-around this season, according to INGymnastics.com. Pomasl has the 16th highest score.
Valparaiso’s Morgan Algozine, who has won four state titles in the last two years including last year’s all-around championship, will look for more hardware on Saturday. Also returning is Angola’s Alex Nickel, who won the state bars and beam competition in 2012. Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger is the defending team state champion.
Logansport senior Morgan Kline reached the state podium on beam with a sixth place finish two years ago as a sophomore. She also placed 26th on vault that year.
This season Kline has had a remarkable comeback from suffering a torn ACL, MCL, LCL and both meniscus in her left knee four months ago. She finished fifth on bars at the regional last Friday. She can only compete on bars due to the injury.
If Kline was completely healthy, the Berries would be contenders for a team state title on Saturday. As it is, the Berries’ regional score was the sixth highest of the eight teams in Saturday’s state field, which includes the top five ranked teams in the state.
Mordenti is proud of how her team has responded since Kline’s injury first occurred.
“All the girls have done an amazing job this year,” she said. “When we found out that Morgan went down we had a lot of thoughts going through our head: ‘What’s going to happen? Who’s going to fill those spots?’ And they’ve stepped up. Ashlyn Brown stepped up on beam. She was going to state no matter if the team did or not. Maddy Rosenberger has been there. She’s our third on every event besides floor, and she’s stepped it up when she’s had to. Hannah Brandt and Liz Nies and all the girls on the team knew what their role was and knew they had to give a little bit extra effort to bump us up.”
The Berries have a young starting lineup with four freshmen, two sophomores and one senior set to compete on Saturday.
Junior Jess Brazzle was set to compete on floor in the tournament but suffered a torn ACL competing at the sectional.
Sophomore Rosenberger will compete on vault, bars and beam on Saturday. Sophomore Brown competes on beam. Freshman Brandt competes on vault and floor, and freshman Nies competes on floor.
Rosenberger and Brandt compete in club gymnastics at Bella Rose in Monticello.
“I think if we can keep working at it year by year we’ll get better and then maybe we will have that chance at a state title,” Brandt said.