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updated: 12/17/2011 5:43 PM

Alden, Palatine win own invitational

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  • Michaela Robert of Naperville North competes on the uneven parallel bars during Saturday's Palatine gymanstics invitational.

       Michaela Robert of Naperville North competes on the uneven parallel bars during Saturday's Palatine gymanstics invitational.
    JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

  • Joslyn Diaz of the South Elign-Bartlett-Streamwood Coop competes on floor exercise during Saturday's Palatine gymanstics invitational.

       Joslyn Diaz of the South Elign-Bartlett-Streamwood Coop competes on floor exercise during Saturday's Palatine gymanstics invitational.
    JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

  • Libertyville's Mariah Lee competes on the floor exercise during Saturday's Palatine gymanstics invitational.

       Libertyville's Mariah Lee competes on the floor exercise during Saturday's Palatine gymanstics invitational.
    JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

  • Palatine's Claudia Przystal competes on the uneven parallel bars during Saturday's Palatine gymanstics invitational.

       Palatine's Claudia Przystal competes on the uneven parallel bars during Saturday's Palatine gymanstics invitational.
    JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

 
By Michael Eaken
Daily Herald Correspondent

Palatine's girls gymnastic team had been building momentum, and the Pirates picked up a bit more on Saturday at their own invitational.

Junior Abby Alden took first in the all-around (36.425) in leading Pirates to the team title with 139.45 points at the 25th annual Palatine Invitational.

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It was the 12th time the Pirates have won their home invitational, but their first victory since 2007.

"It's special -- we talked about it being our home invite," said Palatine coach Terry Theobald. "As a team we're starting to get back up there and we'll continue to build."

Libertyville took second with 136.775, followed by Prospect (133.55), York (133.05), and South Elgin-Bartlett-Streamwood Co-op (132.95).

Alden was major key to the Pirates' success. She took first on the beam (9.325), added a fourth-place finish on the vault (9.2) and fifth-place finishes on bars (8.8) and floor (9.10).

"I'm just feeling really confident on the beam," said Alden of her clean routine. "It feels really good to secure the title. As a team we've been working together and we were able to pull through."

Junior Nicole Kuksuk is regaining the form that helped her qualify to back-to-back state meets. Kuksuk tied for sixth in the all-around (35.65), took second on vault (9.3) and tied for third on floor (9.175).

As a team, the Pirates took first on vault (36.175), beam (34.15), and floor (35.95) in an impressive performance.

Freshman Claudia Pryzystal added an eighth-place finish on both the vault (9.05) and floor (8.875) to help push the Pirates' attack.

"It started on the vault and it gave us a boost of energy," said Kuksuk of the Pirates taking the opening event. "It gave us all a boost of energy and we were more confident the remainder of the meet."

Palatine still has a bit of building to do, but the Pirates have definitely laid a good foundation for a successful season.

Sophomore Mariah Lee took first on the bars (9.45) and tied for third in the all-around (36.025) in leading Libertyville to second place.

Lee's series on the bars help lift the Wildcats to a first-place team finish on that event with 35.075.

"The bars were a bit more bouncy and it worked for me," said Lee of her clean routine. "As a team we have a lot of things to clean up, but we have a lot of potential."

Jenna Dunsing (8.725) and Lindsay Schweitzer (8.625) went 6-7 on the bars to aid the Wildcats success.

"The girls really stepped up and finished strong," said Libertyville coach John Taylor. "We have a lot of potential, and I'm excited to see how the girls progress."

Prospect was missing top all-arounder sophomore Gianna Scala, who is out with a dislocated left knee, but senior Lauren Johnson helped the Knight to third place.

Johnson took fifth in the all-around (35.775), added a third-place finish on beam (8.95) and a fourth-place finish on bars (8.9).

"With Gianna out, I knew I needed to go big," said Johnson, whose solid performance included a sixth-place effort on vault (9.15). "We started off kind of slow, but I thought we finished off big."

York junior Alyna Gagliardi also had a big day. She tied for sixth in the all-around (35.65) and tied for first on the floor (9.225).

The Dukes junior also took fourth on the bars (8.90) and beam (8.90) and added a fifth-place finish on vault (9.175).

"Floor and vault went really well today," said Gagliardi. "Each meet I'm feeling more and more comfortable."

Joslyn Diaz took a pass on her first vault attempt, but the freshman made the most of her second attempt, using a Yurchenko tuck to take first with a 9.35 in leading South Elgin-Bartlett-Streamwood Coop.

"I just went for it and forgot about the first attempt," said Diaz of her second vault attempt. "It definitely gave me a boost of confidence."

Megan Burns tied for third place on the floor (9.175) to spark the South Elgin-Bartlett-Streamwood Coop effort.

Freshman Michaela Robert also made quite an impression for Naperville North.

The Huskies freshman tied for third in the all-around (36.025), added a second-place finish on the beam (9.275) and third-place finishes on vault (9.225) and bars (8.975).

"I finished strong on bars and beam and I'm really happy with that," said Robert, who recovered after opening the day with a fall on the floor. "I knew I had to focus on each skill individually on the beam, and I ended up sticking it."

Kaitlyn Daly (8.8) helped out the Huskies on beam by taking fifth.

Nora Landri help pace Glenbrook South by taking second in the all-around (36.35). The Titans senior also tied for first on the floor (9.225) and added a second-place finish on bars (9.25).

"I'm a senior this year, so I'm just trying to pick it up for the team," said Landri.

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