UNION TOWNSHIP — When the Indiana High School Athletic Association announced Thursday that there will be no fans permitted into Worthen Arena for Saturday’s state gymnastics finals, Makenna King was nowhere near as disappointed as most participants.
“I’m not too worried about,” the South Central sophomore said before her practice at Lisa’s Gymnastics. “I’m OK with it. My whole struggle this year has been crowds watching me. The whole reason I was nervous for state was the crowds. Oh my God, there are so many seats, there are going to be so many people there. It’s just going to be me. I’m kind of disappointed. It’s the state experience I won’t necessarily get, but I’m kind of excited.”
As of Thursday, the IHSAA took steps to make sure the gymnastics meet and the boys basketball regionals adhered with Governor Eric Holcomb’s order that no more than 250 people could be in one place at a time. With nine teams and additional individuals like King, the participation number, King’s mom and assistant coach Corey King said, is over 140.
“It’s cut and dry, this is what’s allowed,” King said. “Nothing’s changed except they have to keep it under 250. They were very apologetic, but there are no exceptions. There are no substitutions. Whatever was submitted, they will be checking all the people. It’s the best they can do.”
In addition to her dad and grandparents, a group of about a dozen classmates were planning to make the trip. Now none of them can attend. It will be King, her mom and coach Christine Garcia.
“They can watch it online,” King said of the IHSAA’s webcast. “Usually, at USAG (meets), it’s just my parents and grandparents. Basically, it will be the same. There will be yelling, but just on the floor. I don’t know what other teams are going to do. Chesterton, Valpo, they feed off their crowd.”
For the Kings, there is no reference point. It’s Makenna’s first high school state meet. Their closest parallel is the USAG Level 9 Nationals last spring in Florida, where she finished fifth on balance beam and sixth on floor exercise, doing so on an ankle she sprained the day before she left.
“It was just family,” Corey said. “We don’t know what (state)’s like. It’s a big deal. The last meet, she really felt all the screaming and yelling. We’ll just roll with it.”
After all the news of closures, postponements and cancellations Thursday, Makenna was surprised to hear the meet was still a go. She’d already had an unsettled week, missing school and practice Monday and Tuesday following a diagnosis of strep throat Sunday.
“And Wednesday was not a good practice,” she said. “I just did it Saturday, so I should be fine. It’s not the way I planned it, but it’s not like I don’t know how to do anything. I’ll just be doing the same thing.”
King will have a 50-minute practice at Ball State today.
“It’ll be good to get a feel for the equipment,” she said.
Following her record-breaking regional performance, King comes into the state meet with state bests in every event – a 9.85 on uneven bars in the sectional and a 9.8 on balance beam, a 9.85 on floor exercise a 9.9 on vault and a 39.125 all in the regional.
“Lisa’s played a pretty important role in me progressing to become the gymnast I am today,” King said of club coach and Lisa’s Gymnastics founder/owner Lisa Whipps.
A Level 4, 10-year old, King came to Lisa’s from a smaller club five years ago. Her high school coach is Whipps’ sister, Christine Garcia.
“We visited and I liked what I saw when I came,” Corey King said. “It wasn’t a mistake.”
King sat in on a webinar with the IHSAA to go over the adjusted meet plan.
“I think they feel pretty confident the meet is still happening,” she said.