With the support of a crowd behind them in their lone home meet of the season, the Spartans jumped a little higher, landed a little firmer and performed just a bit better on Monday.
While EHS finished fourth behind Lawrence Free State, Newton and Lawrence with a team score of 85.1, the Spartans received several impressive individual performances in their home gym and appear ready to tackle the final stretch of the season that lies ahead. Senior Hattie Walker, junior Cadance Vincent and sophomore Journey Walburn all put forth strong efforts Monday, helping boost EHS across several different categories. Up next, the Spartans will close out their regular season with a trip to Shawnee Mission North on Oct. 24.
The 2020 fall season has been an encouraging, if unconventional one for EHS. With COVID-19 as a road block from start to finish, the regular season was extended several weeks in order to accommodate a full schedule for all area teams. But while other schools started and stopped this fall, the Spartans are among a small few who have been able to practice since the very first day of the season until now, handing EHS an advantage in the gym.
That extra practice was evident in the performances of the Spartans in the meet as Walker led the way. The senior registered the top all-round score for EHS, finishing seventh overall with 31.45 points in the field of 26 gymnastics. Walker shined in the vault, where she scored an 8.4, and continued her strong run on the bar, where her score of 7.55 earned her a fourth-place finish in the event. The biggest improvement in her performance came on the floor, where Walker’s continued adjustments to her routine yielded one of her best results of the season and she finished with an 8.3 in the event.
“She’s been very consistent this year,” said EHS head coach Angela Podrebarac. “She just continues to get better. We’ve made changes at each meet to increase her score based on the criteria and the qualifications, and that’s really helping her score go up.”
Elsewhere for the Spartans, Walburn dazzled once again on the floor. The sophomore’s score of 8.5 was the best of any of EHS’ gymnasts and was good enough for fifth-place overall in the category. Walburn is another Spartan who has continued to improve as the season has gone along, helping form an impressive trio with Walker and Vincent.
“I was super happy with Journey’s floor routine,” Podrebarac said. “She just has such great execution on the floor. She works really hard to pull everything together to put skills in her routine that are higher level.”
Vincent’s best score came on the beam, where her 8.8 finish earned her 3rd-place, the top solo performance for EHS in the competition. The junior’s 8.65 effort in the vault also paced the Spartans in the category, good for fourth-overall.
Sophomore Jacey Stutler and freshman Sara Chapman rounded out the field for EHS. Stutler finished in 20th-place and recorded her best performance on the vault, where she recorded an eighth-place finish with a score of 8.3. Chapman’s floor routine was 16th best in the event and she finished with an all-around score of 19 points, which landed her in 23rd-place in the field.
Ahead for Spartans is a final tune-up before state competition when they travel to Shawnee Mission North next weekend. As scores stand, EHS is comfortably in range to qualify the state meet, but will use the event to bolster their overall scores for qualification and to sharpen their routines ahead of the state competition.
“I think our goal is just to fill in the holes we have and to elevate their routines,” Podrebarac said. “I just want them to stick the routines and to limit the things that would knock our scores down.”