High School Sports

District Gymnastics: Emily Connor, Julia Pompeani, Sarah Schneider heading back to state


CHESTERLAND — Emily Connor, Julia Pompeani and Sarah Schneider have advanced to the state meet in every one of their high school seasons.

Avon Lake freshman Anna Molina can claim the same feat.

Avon residents Connor and Pompeani each earned four individual state berths — and led Magnificat to a runner-up finish in the team standings — Saturday at the West Geauga district.

Elyria senior Schneider and Molina also moved on by claiming two bids apiece for next Saturday’s competition at Hilliard Bradley. The top 16 individuals in each event and five teams advanced out of the most demanding district in Ohio.

“Going to state never gets old,” Connor said emphatically. “We want to keep going back and keep doing better every year. This is the best part of the season, and we’re having a lot of fun.”

Fellow junior Pompeani echoed that sentiment.

“We’re always ready for these meets, no matter what,” she said. “Competing at state is everyone’s goal, and we’re happy to be doing it again.”

Connor finished third in the all-around (37.025) behind Hoover’s Madeline Berry (37.475) and Brecksville’s Emily Huffman (37.375). Pompeani was sixth (36.35) and Schneider made a late surge to capture the 16th and final state spot (35.7).

The Blue Streaks standouts shared second place on the balance beam (9.45) with near-flawless routines. Connor was the West Geauga sectional champion in the event, and Pompeani bettered her fifth-place showing from five days earlier.

“That was my favorite event because I improved from last week,” Pompeani said. “The key is just having confidence and not getting ahead of myself, which is where I can get in some trouble.”

Connor added a third on the vault (9.5) and a seventh in the floor exercise (9.275), and Pompeani was 11th on the uneven parallel bars (8.875) and 13th on the vault (9.175).

Both will be competing in their third consecutive state team and individual meets. The former takes place Friday, where Magnificat (144.225) will attempt to dethrone defending champ Brecksville (145.15).

“This is the closest we’ve been to them yet,” Connor said of the Bees. “For me, personally, I need to clean some things up and stick everything to get where I want to be.”

Schneider, who began competing for the Pioneers as a junior, demonstrated laser-like focus as she snared both of her state bids in her last event.

With her gymnastics career on the line, Schneider excelled on the bars, posting a 9.125 to finish third — and leapt over four girls in the all-around standings to edge Walsh Jesuit’s Grace Fabry by 0.075 for 16th.

“There are so many gymnasts who deserve to make state from this district, the littlest thing can make it or break it for you,” she said. “I guess people crossing their fingers for me made the difference.”

Molina made a splash at sectionals with a trio of top-six showings, but heeded the advice of Connor and Pompeani, who told her that the district meet would be much more challenging.

The lone Shoregals gymnast kept to herself while warming up, then calmly finished 12th on the beam (9.075) and 13th on the floor (9.05).

“I’m really excited because I thought I had a good chance in the floor and beam,” Molina said. “It’s been so much fun competing for my school, I’m already looking forward to next year because I have friends who want to help us make a full team.”

North Ridgeville senior Sarah Kegg — the 2017 state beam champion — wound up 25th in her signature event after taking a fall (8.775). It was only her fifth meet after undergoing surgery to repair torn left anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments.

Contact Brian Dulik at Follow him @BrianDulik on Twitter.

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