Her time in the spotlight: Owls junior gymnast steps onto state stage

Last year she just missed the cut, but that’s behind her, and the bright lights shine ahead.

A new face from Seymour High School will take to the big stage at Ball State’s Worthen Arena on Saturday.

Owls junior gymnast Kellsye Warner will make her state debut on the beam.

Last Friday, Warner scored a 9.325 for third place at the Columbus East Regional to punch her ticket to Muncie.

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Warner executed her plan to advance out of the regional.

“(Warner) stuck her routine this past weekend,” Owls coach Angie Mellencamp said. “There weren’t any major wobbles. We upgraded from back walkover, backhand spring to back handspring, back handspring to connection to increase the difficulty in the routine.”

Last year, Warner narrowly missed making it to the state finals in the floor routine in Columbus, placing seventh while the top six made it out.

“It’s exciting and always fun to advance to state,” Mellencamp said. “We never get to see the teams from up north during the season. You get to see what the other teams and coaches are doing.”

Warner, who took to the beam fourth overall of 32 gymnasts at regional, knew she clinched a spot as she watched other gymnasts fall short of her score.

“There were good teams in every rotation,” Warner said. “After Columbus East went, and no one beat my rotation, I knew. I was excited. I’m excited for the new experiences and seeing different competition.”

This weekend, Warner will go 32nd of 42 on the beam — a different scenario mentally for the junior.

Warner’s highest score this season was a 9.55 on the beam at the Bloomington North Invitational on Feb. 11.

Worthen Arena will prove a much different venue for Warner, who almost always competes in smaller gyms.

“Yes and no,” Warner said of looking forward to competing in Muncie. “Yes, because I will see what the college gymnasts compete in. No because it will be a new gym. I’m used to East, and the new gym might mess me up.”

Mellencamp said that different gymnasts react differently to the bigger platform.

“There’s a lot of commotion during the competition, which can be good and bad,” he said. “It can be a distraction, but sometimes distractions are good because they can take away some of the pressure. Worthen Arena is huge and can mess up a gymnast’s spacial awareness just a little bit with the high ceilings.”

On Friday, Mellencamp and Warner will travel to Ball State for a walk-through. Outside of the routine, Warner will need to remember some of the smaller details like saluting more judges.

“At state, there are four judges on each event,” Mellencamp said. “We usually have two. It kind of adds to it having two on each side. It’s things like that we’ll go over (Friday).”

Mellencamp and Warner have experimented with different ideas for approaching the state meet.

“We had a couple ideas to change up some things, but I don’t think we’re going to. I think we’re going to play it safe and see where she ends up.

“She’s fully capable staying 9.3 to 9.6 if she hits solid. She has all of her bonus and difficulty. I would like to have one more salto in the routine, and we’re going to continue to work on it this week. If it comes, we’re going to put it in but if it’s not there we won’t.”

Opening ceremonies of state begin at 12:30 p.m., while competition commences at 1 p.m.