Editor’s note: Thanks to the IHSAA for holding this event today during this tough week. These ladies will remember this as long as they live. As a sport site we thank you!
(3-14-20) Amid odd surroundings at Ball State University’s Worthen Arena, top-ranked Chesterton captured another team title and Richmond’s Elizabeth Ruger earned all-around honors during the 48th Annual IHSAA Girls Gymnastics State Finals.

This year’s event was contested without spectators for the first time as Indiana, the country, and the world dealt with the spread of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19). Only participating gymnasts, their coaches and essential event personnel were allowed in the facility.

But out of the ordinary didn’t shake Chesterton which racked up 112.250 points to win its third straight gymnastics state crown and the school’s sixth overall (1993, 2000, 2002) tying Homestead for second-most in tournament history. The team was guided by coach Dawn Matthys.

Ruger became the third Richmond gymnast to win a state championship and its second all-around winner joining Valarie Young who wore the 1976 crown. The sophomore beat out fellow soph Makenna King of South Central (Union Mills) by a 38.225-38.150 margin. Ruger won the floor exercise (9.650), finished second on the vault (9.775), fourth on the beam (9.550) ninth on the bars (9.250).

Haiven Gipson of Harrison (West Lafayette) received a 9.90 to win the vaulting competition, the highest score in the event since 2012 when the record of 9.950 was set. The sophomore also became the first gymnast in her school’s history to win a state title.

Chesteron junior Mia Pak repeated as unparallel bars champion with her 9.60 and Northwestern junior Catie Smith topped the balance beam field with her 9.625. Smith became her school’s first champ since 2002 when Jenna Tarkington won the floor exercise competition.

48th Annual IHSAA Gymnastics State Finals
March 14, 2020
Worthen Arena, Ball State University, Muncie, IN

Final Team Scores
1. Chesterton 112.250
2. Valparaiso 111.550
3. Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger 110.050
4. Lake Central 109.925
5. Columbus North 109.575
6. Homestead 109.000
7. Richmond 197.725
8. Carroll (Fort Wayne) 105.375
9. New Castle 101.475

State Champions
All-Around: Elizabeth Ruger (10) Richmond 38.225
Vault: Haiven Gipson (10) Harrison (West Lafayette) 9.90
Uneven Bars: Mia Pak (11) Chesterton 9.60
Balance Beam: Catie Smith (11) Northwestern 9.625
Floor Exercise: Elizabeth Ruger (10) Richmond 9.650

Samantha Heathcote named Mildred Ball Mental Attitude Award Winner

Following the event, members of the IHSAA Executive Committee named Samantha Heathcote of Columbus North High School as the recipient of the Mildred M. Ball Mental Attitude Award.

The award is presented annually to a senior participant in the state finals who is deemed to have best demonstrated mental attitude, scholarship, leadership and athletic ability in gymnastics.

The daughter of Rob and Patricia Heathcote of Columbus, Indiana, Heathcote is undecided on her college choice but has been offered two academic scholarships to study Engineering.

The IHSAA Executive Committee, on behalf of Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance, presented $1,000 to Columbus North High School’s general scholarship fund in the name of Samantha Heathcote.

The mental attitude award is named in honor of the former IHSAA assistant commissioner who served the Association from 1977 to 1997. During her career, Mildred Ball administered the state gymnastics tournament among other sports and also oversaw the licensing and training of all contest officials in the state of Indiana.