NOBLESVILLE—The fledgling Lapel gymnastics team had all the confidence in the world it could accomplish the goal of advancing out of sectional in its first year as a group.
That did not prevent the tears from flowing when that dream became a reality.
Senior Madi Carpenter scored first-place finishes in the uneven bars and the floor exercise on her way to capturing the individual all-around championship, and the Bulldogs placed second in the team competition and will move on to regional next Saturday at Portage.
Lapel’s team of three tallied an overall total of 103.025 points, finishing a distant second to repeat champion West Lafayette Harrison and its score of 106.400, but also comfortably ahead of third-place Lafayette Jefferson’s 101.750. The top three teams from sectional advance to regional, which brought plenty of emotion to coach Misty Carpenter when the results were announced.
“I knew that we could do it if we put our best foot forward and do what we came here to do,” she said. “I’m just so happy that they advanced. They worked so hard, and they deserve it. I’m so emotional.”
After the awards were handed out, the coach embraced her team — including two of her own daughters — with a special message for the group.
“I’m just so proud of all of you,” she told her team. “We’re going to (regional) as a team, the first time for Lapel to have a gymnastics team. Well, for me personally to have a gymnastics team and advancing to regional, it’s just amazing.”
For Madi Carpenter, competing at regional is nothing new after doing so last year as an individual. This year, she scored a 9.250 on the bars and a 9.425 on the floor exercise, placing first in both. She added a third-place vault finish at 9.425 and was runner-up on the beam with a 9.325. Her all-around score of 37.425 edged Catie Smith of Northwestern by 0.300 and also met the state standard for advancement.
Like her mother, Madi’s eyes were red from the tears of joy after the event.
“I didn’t know for certain that I was going to win, but I knew there was a possibility,” she said. “When I wasn’t in second place, everything just happened. Everything that I’ve worked for came into my mind, and I’m just so happy.”
This time around, the senior will have company. Joining her at Portage will be her two freshman teammates, sister Myleigh Carpenter and Elizabeth Stern.
Stern, thanks to a strong fourth-place finish on the floor (8.750) was ninth in the all-around at 33.225 while the younger Carpenter was 15th at 32.375.
“It’s really exciting,” Stern said. “It really boosts your confidence, especially having our team here to help each other and lift each other up when we’re down.”
The Bulldogs put themselves in good position for a strong finish as the floor exercise was their fourth rotation event. They had the confidence of knowing this was their strongest apparatus, with Myleigh bouncing back from a bobble on the beam to score an 8.475 and place 11th on the floor.
“Floor is one of my stronger events,” she said. “I just knew that I could finish strong.”
Madi Carpenter, who hopes to advance past regional this year and on to the state meet the following week, she is happy to have her teammates along for the long drive to Portage next week.
“I’m so glad that I can cheer them on and they can cheer me on,” she said. “I’m especially proud of both of them. I could not have done it without them. I’m so thankful to have a team here.”