Although the Spartans just missed out on qualifying for state competition as a team this fall, Emporia High will send three individual qualifiers to the state meet in Newton this weekend.

Hattie Walker, Cadence Vincent and Journey Walburn will represent the Spartans in the final competition of the season in the gym at Newton High School today. Together, the trio will compete across three competitions — bars, vault and floor — and each has something different on the line.

For Walker, a senior, the meet marks the end of her high school career. Vincent, a junior, and Walburn, a sophomore, meanwhile, will be looking to end their seasons on a high note, building momentum into next season.

Entering their final meet of the season, at Shawnee Mission North on Oct. 24, the Spartans appeared poised to qualify for one of the eight team spots in the state competition. But the Spartans faltered in Overland Park.

“We didn’t hit our beam,” Head Coach Angela Podrebarac said. “We didn’t hit our bars that day. It was a little bit of a rough go for those events.”

The disappointing performance to close the regular season dropped EHS in the standings and ultimately left the Spartans on the outside looking in for team qualification.

“I wouldn’t say that meet made or broke us in any way, but it wasn’t one of our better ones,” Podrebarac said.

In her final high school meet, Walker will have the opportunity to compete in two of her strongest events in the floor and bar routines on Saturday. Over the course of the season, Walker has honed her floor routine, cleaning up the little errors judges have penalized her for, and so Saturday’s performance will simply come down to execution. On the bar, the senior has added some flourishes to her plans that will add to the challenge, but also just might boost her score in the competition.

“She has a handstand that she’s been working on that just hasn’t been there yet,” Podrebarac said. “She’s been really close these last few weeks in getting that, so I think she’s going to try to put that in because this is her last hurrah. That will help with her score.”

Competing in the vault and beam events, Vincent will have her work cut out for her. In preparation for the state meet, the junior has added new elements to her vault that she’s still working to perfect and fully implement into her routine. On Saturday, Vincent will have two chances on the vault, meaning she can go safe on the first and then break out something new in the second with a chance to do something special.

On the beam, where Vincent has scored well throughout the season, the junior has also added new pieces to her routine that she and the Spartans hope will pad her scoring.

“If we can get Cadance confident up on the beam and get her polishing up those skills that she’s been working on, she’ll score well," Podrebarac added. 

Walburn will compete only on the floor Saturday in the event where she has shined this season for EHS. The sophomore has tweaked her routine over the fall schedule, cleaning up critiques handed down by judges, and won’t be changing a whole lot in the state meet.

“She hasn’t changed anything the last couple of weeks,” Podrebarac said. “But she’s going to take that routine she’s worked so hard on and been so consistent with and just hope everything hits Saturday.”

The state meet in Newton will begin at noon. Streaming information can be found at KSHSAA.org.

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