PH gymnast ready for sectional

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NEW CASTLE — Gymnast Cassie Zehr competed against teams from New Castle, Jay County, Muncie Central and Knightstown on Wednesday, Feb. 22, in her final tune up heading into the Saturday, Feb. 25, sectional.

Although she failed to collect a first-place finish in any of the events, the Pendleton Heights sophomore is heading into the postseason with plenty of confidence.

Despite an unusual fall during her balance beam routine, Zehr still put up enough points for a second-place finish on the beam and in the all-around with a combined score of 33.850.

New Castle senior Kierstyn Cochran swept the apparatus and won the all-around title with a score of 35.50.

Zehr was visibly frustrated following her beam performance; the fall resulted in an automatic half-point deduction. Her score of 8.32 tied for second with Clair Buchanan from Muncie Central. With the floor exercise to follow, Zehr knew she had to compose herself quickly.

“I knew I had to get my head in the game,” she said. “So, I just kind of did it.”

She rebounded with one of her best floor exercise scores of the year, receiving an 8.925. Zehr placed second once again, despite getting the wind knocked out of her early in the routine.

“On my front pass during the floor, I landed really straight,” she said. “It jarred my whole body.”

Following her routine, the judges called Cassie and her coach and father, Darrell Zehr, over for a word of advice to improve her performance.

“The judges told us there are a couple things she could add to improve her score,” Darrell Zehr said. “The judges are very open to helping you out and letting you know where you can improve stuff.”

Zehr then landed a 9.2 score in the vault, placing just one-tenth of a point behind Cochran.

She also scored a 7.375 on the uneven bars, which she admits is her weakest event, which did not land in the top six scores.

Cassie said she may alter a couple of her routines in an effort to increase her chances to score higher at sectional.

“I might change my dismount on the beam, just to get a bonus,” she said. “And I may add something to the floor.”

The top six finishers in each event Saturday will move on to regional and, Zehr is hoping to advance in both the beam and the vault events.

Darrell Zehr said Cassie is in a good position to do well in the postseason after a surprising run to regional a year ago.

“I think definitely she’s shown a lot of improvement from last year,” he said. “She knows where she stands and has goals now as to where she can go. Last year, beam was not something she thought she could do well at, but she’s really taken off with it this year. I’m excited about that.”

Sectional gets underway at 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 25, at the Spartan Bowl in Connersville. There will be 15 teams involved; the top three teams move on. Zehr is hoping to be among the six competitors in each event and in the all-around who will advance to regional the following week at Columbus East.