by JANE NOFFSINGER
For the second year in a row, Rockford High School welcomed the best of both Division I and Division II high school gymnasts to participate in the state championships. Over 60 teams competed for the honor of participating at the state level. March 12 brought 12 teams and two days of fierce competition and amazing skills.
This was the first time since 2006 that Rockford has been represented as a team at the state championships.
Day one was the team competition. The Rockford gymnasts took to the floor with freshman Colleen Conroy leading the charge with a score of 8.55. Sophomore Jenelle Miller followed and upped the ante with an 8.675. Next up were the seniors. The always strong Ali VanBelkum, who had been battling the flu all week, put on her game face and made her team and coaches proud by pushing through her routine and earning an 8.85. Kelsey Donley did a beautiful routine earning an 8.95, and Emily Noffsinger, appearing to have a lot of fun, earned a 9.0.
On the beam, Donely was the high scorer, earning an 8.8 with Noffsinger and VanBelkum earning 8.675. Miller earned an 8.375 and Conroy 8.1.
Next up was the vault. Conroy, making it look effortless, earned a huge 9.0. Sophmore Casey Buelken followed with an 8.55. Miller and Donely both earned an 8.5 and Noffsinger an 8.35.
The last event of the day was the uneven bars. Conroy had a strong performance, earning an 8.6. Noffsinger followed with an 8.3, Miller a 7.9, sophmore Maggie Setterington a 7.65, and Donley, who was not planning on participating in this event until the last minute, earned a respectable 7.5.
Rockford had a combined score of 137, placing them among the top 10 in the state with a 10th-place finish. The state championship went to Grand Ledge, whose team scored an unbelievable 150.225.
Day two of competition showcased the individual gymnasts. VanBelkum qualified to compete in all-around, but was still not feeling 100 percent, and competed in three of the four events. Her floor routine earned her a 9.025, bars an 8.2, and beam 8.1.
Noffsinger qualified for two events. Her floor routine earned an 8.675 and her beam 7.925. Donley and Conroy both qualified for one event. Donley’s beam routine earned an 8.475, and Conroy’s vault an 8.7.