APEX — West Johnston’s Lauren Lushene earned top honors with a 38.15 score in the all around at the Greater Neuse River Conference meet at the Team Attraction Gym on Friday.
The West Johnston junior also captured Conference Gymnast of the Year honors, and said afterward it was an awesome experience going against so many talented girls. Lushene had the top score (9.7) on the beam.
Lushene made things easy regarding the individual champ. Figuring out the GNRC team champion proved a bit more difficult.
Meet directors were unable to declare an official conference winner, as controversy existed regarding whether the top three or top four scores were to be counted toward the teams’ final point total.
Harnett Central would have claimed its fourth consecutive title by two and a half points over Clayton (112.25-109.75) if three gymnasts were the criteria.
However, conference bylaws apparently stated that each team needed to score four gymnasts, and the Trojans only brought three. By that account, Clayton would have scored 142.35 and prevented the Harnett Central four-peat.
“We didn’t do what was in the best interest of all the teams,” said Harnett Central head coach Anna Arellano, who was under the impression she only needed three gymnasts at Friday’s event. “We are planning a meeting to go over all of this so it does not happen again.”
Clayton and West Johnston head coach Margaret Morgan-Lee acknowledged that meet directors have in the past altered things at particular meets, due to some teams not being able to field four or more gymnasts. Morgan-Lee and the Comets went into the GNRC meet believing four gymnasts were a must this time.
“What’s important to me is not the win at this particular conference meet, but the longevity of high school gymnastics in Johnston County,” Morgan-Lee said.
Both the Trojan and Comet gymnasts performed well. Harnett Central senior Sonny Nelson and Alex Raynor each scored 37.6 in the all around, with Nelson dominating the bars (9.6) and Raynor doing the same in the vault (9.8). Nicole Pearce (37.05) rounded out the Trojan attack.
“These four years have meant a lot,” said Nelson, who has been a part of all three Trojan small team state champions. “It’s sad to think next week’s states will be my last meet, it’s been an awesome experience.”
Clayton sent a quartet of freshman, including Avery Moser, Madyson Scott, Brigid Donohue and Sloane Patterson. Moser and Scott each earned the top scores in the floor exercises (9.7), while Patterson (9.65) just trailed Lushene on the beam.
Other GNRC top performers included Kelsie Hembrick (37.9) and Raven Cheatham (37.05) of Southeast Raleigh, Lauren Rogers (35.9) of Garner, Hannah Flynn (33.75) of West Johnston and Shayna Henley (31.9) of Rolesville.