The beam can be downright mean.
Sure it's an inanimate object, but it left St. Charles co-op heartbroken anyway during Friday's Naperville North girls gymnastics regional.
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St. Charles struggled mightily on the narrow apparatus, which opened the door for the host Huskies to pull out a 139.375-138.6 victory. Wheaton Warrenville South placed third with a 131.6 and Glenbard East finished with a 129.225.
"I'm disappointed. We lost it today on beam," said St. Charles coach Amy Lill. "They've worked so hard, but sometimes you have those meets where you're just off and unfortunately it happened."
"Beam can be a deciding event, and unfortunately for St. Charles they had some trouble hitting that event and it opened some opportunities for us," said Naperville North coach Chris Stanicek. "Our girls took advantage of it and it paid off."
Naperville North trailed St. Charles by 1.375 points midway through the regional before it delivered on the beam. Tori Tanaka followed Morgan McKenna's 8.85 with a 9.425, which tied her for first place with St. Charles' Stephanie de la Torriente. Then, after Kayla Kinder had a fall, Carolyn Filarski ensured the Huskies would finish strong by earning third place with a 9.2.
"We're really consistent in practice on beam and we knew we needed to hit it cleanly if we wanted a chance to win," Tanaka said. "We were nervous, but we tried to do what we do in practice and see what we score."
St. Charles finished the regional on the beam and struggled until de la Torriente's 9.425. Meanwhile, Naperville North closed on the floor exercise, and while the Huskies were outscored in the event 35.675-34.975 by St. Charles, the disparity between the teams on beam had already made the difference.
Both St. Charles and Naperville North used nine gymnasts and only a single all-arounder.
Notable finishers for the winners included Filarski, who won bars and took third on beam and the floor exercise, Tanaka who added a second-place bars routine to her effort on beam, and top-five finishes by Paige Bloodgood on vault, McKenna on bars and Kinder in the floor exercise. Kinder also snagged the fifth and final all-around spot with a 33.35.
In addition to winning the all-around for St. Charles with a 36.825, de la Torriente won the floor exercise, tied for first on beam and placed third on vault and bars. Shelby le Duc placed second on vault and Kaylee Arnold won vault and also took fourth on bars and floor.
A Tri-Cities team that should benefit immensely from St. Charles' struggles is Geneva. The Vikings, who scored a 139.125 in Monday's Geneva regional, remain the highest scoring at-large candidate for sectional play. Unless three of the five teams in Saturday's Glenbard West regional score better than a 139.125, Geneva will be going to Glen Ellyn next Thursday.
Wheaton Warrenville South's lone sectional qualifier proved to be a senior. Elizabeth Ciesielski advanced in the all-around as well as the vault and in the floor exercise, where her 9.225 was good enough for second place.
"It's such an honor with the girls in this regional to be called up there," Ciesielski said. "I started a little shaky but finished strong and now it's just such a great feeling."
Glenbard East sophomore Jessica Griffin took fourth place in the all-around to lead the Rams and to continue her season.
"I only finished in seventh at the DVC so I was hoping to do better and make it to sectional this year," Griffin said. "I think the difference between the DVC was my bars. They contributed to my score and the rest of it altogether."
Many other gymnasts await the results of Saturday's Glenbard West regional to learn the fate of the at-large qualifiers for the sectional. Emily Costenaro on vault and Bonnie DeBatty on beam are two such gymnasts from Glenbard East who hope to compete again with Griffin.