Valparaiso captured its second consecutive team title and senior Julie Houston of Columbus East won the individual all-around championship in the 26th Annual IHSAA Gymnastics State Finals on March 21, 1998 at Perry Meridian High School in Indianapolis. 

Houston, who finished sixth in the all-around competition in 1997, placed second in the uneven bars and third in the balance beam to capture the top spot with 37.125 points. Finishing second was junior Tiffany Stewart of Portage with 37.025 points. 

With its team championship, Valparaiso became the first school to claim five state championships in girls gymnastics. The Vikings also won it all in 1981, 1991, 1994 and 1997 under the guidance of coach Lorie Cook.  

Valparaiso sophomores Aimee Melody and Ellison Tipton finished third and fourth, respectively in the all-around competition to help the Vikings accumulate 110.025 points and beat out runner-up Fort Wayne Dwenger with 108.500 points. North Central of Indianapolis finished third with 107.425 points followed by Columbus North with 104.500. 

Tipton won the floor exercise competition with 9.700 points; Stewart took the uneven bars with 9.500; Sophomore Shera Shaw of Huntington North claimed first in the balance beam with 9.650; and Fort Wayne Dwenger freshman Elizabeth Minix caputured first in the vault with 9.600.  

Julie Houston of Columbus East High School was selected by the IHSAA Executive Committee as the recipient of the Mildred M. Ball Mental Attitude Award in Girls Gymnastics. Besides taking all-around honors and competing at the state meet all four years, Houston has maintained a perfect grade point average throughout her high school career. Farm Bureau Insurance, the corporate partner of the IHSAA, presented a $1,000 scholarship to Columbus East High School in Houstonís name.



  1. Valparaiso 110.025
  2. Fort Wayne Dwenger 108.500
  3. North Central (Indpls.) 107.425
  4. Columbus North 104.500




1. Julie Houston, Columbus East, 37.125; 2. Tiffany Stewart, Portage, 37.025; 3. Aimee Melody, Valparaiso, 36.950; 4. Ellison Tipton, Valparaiso, 36.850; 5. Elizabeth Trahin, Fort Wayne Dwenger, 36.800; 6. Shera Shaw, Huntington North, 36.750. 

Balance Beam

1. Shera Shaw, Huntington North, 9.650; 2. Abby Weidberg, Carmel, 9.350; 3. Julie Houston, Columbus East, 9.325; 4. Elizabeth Trahin, Fort Wayne Dwenger, 9.250; 5. Aimee Melody, Valparaiso, 9.225; 6. Rhiannon Jolliff, Hobart, 9.225.

Floor Exercise

1. Ellison Tipton, Valparaiso, 9.700; 2. Elizabeth Trahin, Fort Wayne Dwenger, 9.600; 3. Aimee Melody, Valparaiso, 9.525; 4. Kristen Chentnik, Chesterton, 9.450; 5. Kristen Hines, Homestead, 9.450; 6. Kara Charnoski, North Central (Indpls.), 9.450.


1. Elizabeth Minix, Fort Wayne Dwenger, 9.600; 2. Tiffany Stewart, Portage, 9.575; 3. Aimee McQueen, Martinsville, 9.550; 4. Aimee Melody, Valparaiso, 9.500; 5. Shera Shaw, Huntington North, 9.500; 6. Rachel Goldberg, North Central (Indpls.), 9.450.


Uneven Bars

1. Tiffany Stewart, Portage, 9.500; 2. Julie Houston, Columbus East, 9.400; 3. Shellen Goltz, Homestead, 9.375; 4. Elizabeth Trahin, Fort Wayne Dwenger, 9.300; 5. Lisa Walters, Chesterton, 9.300; 6. Paula Meszaros, Homestead, 9.200.