Down a gymnast due to an injury Friday — and filling the shoes of recent graduates — Carroll’s gymnastics team relied on some new blood in its first invite of the 2021 season Saturday.

The Chargers placed second out of six teams in their home invitational, claiming seven spots on the podium. Carroll scored 104.725 points to first-place Homestead’s 106.825.

It was a battle of postseason rivals, as Carroll and Homestead have shared spots in the top three at the Concordia sectional for six years in a row. Carroll last won the title in 2018, while the Spartans are currently on a two-year streak.

“We just have some things to work out. I think there’s a lot more in us,” Carroll Head Coach Rosemary Scheele said. “I know Homestead’s a good team and I knew who they had coming back, so I figured they would win, but I was very pleased with second place.”

It was a crash course for three Chargers — sophomores Rylee Coudron and Leah Stuckey as well as freshman Natalie Smith — for whom “this was the first time they really competed in a big meet for varsity,” Scheele said, “so they had a little bit of jitters, but we were completely fine. I thought we did very well.

“We’ve been trying to move up some of the younger girls, and we’re just not where we want to be for bars right now. We need to get better at our skills and add some more difficulty in, but I thought they had a great performance today. We still had some falls on beam, we still had the issues on bars, but I was very pleased — I think they went out there and gave it their all.”

For the more veteran gymnasts, it was a return to form, especially for seniors Julia Goodine and Sami Givens. The two upperclassmen are both coming off injuries from last year. Goodine was the runner-up in the all-around (36.975), placing second on the bars (9.25), vault (9.3) and beam (8.9), and tying Homestead’s Gina Zirille for first in the floor exercise (9.525). Givens was third on both the vault (9.15) and beam (8.85), and junior Bella Hoogland finished sixth all-around (32.775), climbing the podium at fourth on beam (8.8).

“Julia is a given. I think Julia is going to get better, keeping in mind that she was pretty much out the entire season last year with a broken ankle, and Sami was completely out for a whole year — Sami hasn’t competed since her sophomore year,” Scheele said. “So, those girls coming in and doing what they did today, I was very pleased. They still have room for improvement for sure, and I’m sure they will gradually get there.”

Smith was just outside the top six on bars (7.575) and floor (8.85), placing seventh and ninth, respectively, in those events.

Saturday’s meet followed a Carroll win over Wawasee in the Chargers’ home opener. Goodine placed first in all four events during that meet, earning the all-around medal.

Zirille led Homestead in the Spartans’ win Saturday, placing first all-around (37.925) with championship performances in all four events: vault (9.7), bars (9.45), beam (9.25) and floor (9.525).

Carroll will return to action Wednesday, hosting Huntington North at 6:30 p.m.

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