2016 State Finals Preview: Valpo Seeks Three-Peat, Three Individual Champs Return

2016 State Finals Preview: Valpo Seeks Three-Peat, Three Individual Champs Return

Five teams return from last year's field of finalists along with three former individual state champions as the 44th Annual IHSAA Gymnastics State Finals will be contested Saturday at Worthen Arena on the campus of Ball State University in Muncie. Competition will begin at 1 pm ET following the opening ceremonies.

Top-ranked Valparaiso, No. 2 Columbus North and No. 5 Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger each won their respective regionals last weekend for a return trip to state and are joined by seventh-ranked Owen Valley and No. 15 Homestead, the other holdovers from last year.

Valparaiso is the two-time defending state champion and winner in six of the last eight meets. The Vikings have won a record 11 gymnastics titles overall, all under the direction of coach Lorie Cook, also the state's leader.

Columbus North enters Saturday ranked No. 2 for the second year in a row and will make its 10th straight appearance as a team this weekend. The Bull Dogs aim to land their first state title since 1974 two weeks after the girls basketball team finished as the Class 4A state runner-up.

Bishop Dwenger, ranked fifth in the state coaches poll, collected both the Fort Wayne Concordia sectional and Huntington North regional crowns. The Saints have finished second the last two seasons and three of the last five and will attempt to win the school's sixth crown and first since 2012.

Chesterton, Columbus East, Crown Point, Elkhart Central are the other schools who have qualified in the team competition. Elkhart Central is competing for the first time at state while Crown Point is making just its second appearance and first since 2005.

Three individuals who won titles a year ago are among Saturday's competitors including the last two all-around champs.

Owen Valley senior Anna Watkin returns as the defending beam and allaround winner while helping her school make its first appearance as a team last year. She's captured the beam title in two of the last three years.

Morgan Township senior Kylee Maxwell is the defending champion in the vault and also boasts the 2014 titles in the bars and the allaround competition.

Ashley Holliday, a junior at Columbus North, joins them as the defending crown holder in the bars competition. She finished third in Saturday's regional event but helped her team secure its third straight regional title.

Others to keep an eye on include: Columbus East sophomore Addison Minor who took three of four events (vault, bars, beam) to win the all-around at her school's regional; Dwenger senior Maria Trahin won twice (vault, floor) to claim the all-around at Huntington North and; Valparaiso senior Sydney Intagliata (bars, beam) to take honors at her school's regional.

Click here to view the full IHSAA Preview