GIRLS HIGH SCHOOL GYMNASTICS: Fanucci, Waddell ready to represent ECISD at state meet

The Odessa High and Permian girls gymnastics teams will each have one representative at the 2021 THSGCA State Championships that begin Wednesday at Euless Trinity High School

Brenna Waddell qualified for the Lady Bronchos after placing 13th in the all-around at the Region III Championships. She earned a spot at the state competition after San Angelo Central and El Paso Bel Air, who finished first and second at the regional competition, reached their allotted total of qualifying spots.

Isabella Fanucci and Sydney Vaughn qualified for Permian, finishing in eighth and ninth at regionals. Only Fanucci will make the trip for the Lady Panthers, as Vaughn will not compete due to outside circumstances.

Odessa High head coach Gayla Billingsley said Waddell didn’t realize she qualified for the state meet when the regional competition ended. The gymnast placed in the top 10 of every event at regionals, except the uneven bars.

“She really just started doing bars this year, she’s really come a long way,” Billingsley said. “Because of the way it fell, she got the all-around. We’re just going to do our best.”

Both Billingsley and Permian head coach Casey Werner have stayed away from making any big changes in routines in the two weeks leading up to the state meet. The coaches want their gymnasts to focus on their strengths.

Permian High School’s Isabella Fanucci performs her floor routine during the Region III Championship April 9 at the Permian Fieldhouse. (Jacob Ford|Odessa American)

“[Waddell] did a really good job and what we did was just focus on what we have,” Billingsley said. “We didn’t try to upgrade or do anything like that, we just want to be consistent with what we have.”

The only change Billingsley saw at practice was the number of gymnasts in attendance. Instead of practicing as a team, the focus has shifted toward Waddell.

Werner kept her practices consistent with the ones that took place during competition season.

“Even though there was just one individual going, we still kept the normal workouts,” Werner said.

Both coaches believe having representatives at the state meet will be beneficial for the future of their programs. Waddell, a senior, has given her younger teammates something to look forward to, according to Billingsley.

Seeing Fanucci and Vaughn secure a spot at the state meet has already pushed their Lady Panthers teammates to begin preparations for next season.

“The girls that didn’t qualify have definitely been more motivated to work harder for it next year,” Werner said. “I’ve definitely seen more work ethic this past week.”

Waddell and Fanucci begin competition at 10 a.m. As individuals, they will be in a rotation with one of the teams that qualified for the event. Fanucci will perform alongside El Paso Bel Air, while Waddell will compete with the athletes from Saginaw High School.

>> Follow Chris Amaya on Twitter at @OA_CAmaya