Monday, March 05, 2007

Carl Matzelle
Plain Dealer Reporter

Brecksville-Broadview Heights senior Christina Lenny wasn't about to let an early morning hotel fire alarm prevent her from becoming the Bees' first all-around state champion Saturday.

"It feels great, it's been my goal all year, but it hasn't re ally sunk in yet, I'm numb," said Lenny, who also did some extra stretching be cause she was more worried about the lack of recovery time between Friday's team meet and Sat urday's individual meet at Hilliard Darby High School.

Brecksville, Char don, Mentor and other Northeast Ohio gymnasts and coaches were evacuated from an Embassy Suites Hotel early Saturday. Dublin firefighters responded about 2:30 a.m. when someone smoking on the eighth floor triggered a fire alarm.

Everyone was allowed back into the hotel within 45 minutes, Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin coach Don Schutz said.

"It was crazy, we were all standing around without coats, although some had blankets," Schutz said.

Northeast Ohio gymnasts captured 22 medals at the 35th annual state meet, including the first four spots in the all-around. Besides Lenny (37.775), those medals went to Magnificat junior Kayla Kmiecik (36.700), who also defended her state title on the uneven bars (9.375); Medina junior Nicole Rymer (36.550); and North Royalton junior Bethany Neczypor (35.975).

Kmiecik began the day on the bars and impressed the judges with her giant full dismount. She wobbled and fell during her beam routine but recovered nicely, then bounced back with a 9.400 in her floor exercise and a 9.200 in the vault.

"My back handspring was a little off and affected my layout," Kmiecik said of her tumble from the beam. "I took a deep breath, told myself to forget about it and moved on."

Lenny also won the vault (9.700), beam (9.400) and floor exercise (9.525) and was third on the bars (9.150). Rymer also was fifth on the vault (9.125), fourth on the bars (8.975) and second on the beam (9.375).

Other Northeast Ohio gymnasts who medaled were Strongsville's Allison Marko, who was second on the bars (9.225). For Brecksville, Vitoria Moskalow was fifth on beam (8.925), Amy Trippet was third on floor (9.325) and Kelsey Bletsch was fifth on the bars (8.950). Perry's Erin O'Donnell was fourth on floor (9.300) and Twinsburg's Megan McConnell was sixth on floor (9.150).

The state finals were bittersweet for Lenny and other gymnasts, including her senior teammate Kristy Ryan, who finished sixth on the vault (9.075). Both will attend Kent State in the fall. While Lenny will compete on scholarship, Saturday marked Ryan's farewell to gymnastics.

"My body's tired. I'm done, but it's been fun," Ryan said.

The duo credit their coaches, Joan and Ron Ganim, and Olympic gold medalist Dominique Moceanu for their success, in and out of the gym. Moceanu has been assisting the Ganims for the past five years.

"Dominique taught us respect for the sport, made us more disciplined," Ryan said. "But we could also relate to her as teenagers, too, because she's been through it all."

Moceanu said she's grateful for the opportunity to help the team win its fourth straight state title, and understands the emotions the seniors are feeling better than most. "After four years, all that hard work finally paid off, but just like that, it's over and time to move on," Moceanu said. "I know they'll take the values, the respect, the discipline with them."

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter:, 216-999-5167 

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