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updated: 11/29/2012 7:29 PM

Mundelein hoping to snap state slump

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  • Nicole Ornoff, here competing on balance beam during last season's Lake County meet at Lake Forest, is one of several experienced gymnasts hoping to help Mundelein earn a state meet appearance.

       Nicole Ornoff, here competing on balance beam during last season's Lake County meet at Lake Forest, is one of several experienced gymnasts hoping to help Mundelein earn a state meet appearance.
    JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

 
By Rusty Silber
Daily Herald Correspondent

Reaching state has been something Mundelein's girls gymnastics team was oh so close to accomplishing last February.

The Mustangs finished just shy of making their second appearance in the state meet as a team. Their only previous appearance was in 1982, when with Barb Hartwig as coach the Mustangs finished eighth.

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Since then, the Mustangs have won regionals in 1983, 1986, 1988, 1990 and 2004. But they've not won a sectional.

"In the years that I've been here, we've had the consistency," said Mundelein coach Nancy Toland, who's entering her 12th year. "We've been taking some of the girls as individuals to state. We just need the right combination of girls; then we can get to state."

Mundelein lost a key part from last year's team with the graduation of Lisa Wajswol.

But the Mustangs have state-level experience returning with senior Mackenzie Kehr, along with all-arounders such as junior Maya Nienaber and sophomore Nicole Ornoff. Other girls who will play key roles include seniors Katie Schall and Kendall Smith, sophomore Kelsey Toland and freshman Marissa Rizzo.

"I still believe we're pretty young," Toland said. "I can see us eventually in the 140s. We have to stay healthy and clean up a lot of things.

"Most of the girls were in the gym over the summer. Now we've been able to work out every single day pretty hard recently."

Kelsey Toland, the daughter of the coach, is back with the varsity for a second year. She's a three-sport athlete and recently finished 23rd in the state in diving, Kelsey also competed in track and field last spring, specializing in the pole vault, high jump and long jump.

There's definitely a lot of pressure to do well in every sport, but I know each one is different," said Kelsey, who also carries a GPA over 4.0. "In the gym, there's also a lot of pressure. I just go out there and try to do my best."

Kelsey experienced what it's like being on a successful team in her first year and nearly earned a trip to the state meet.

This year, that's the collective goal for Mundelein.

"We all know going into this year that we have a different team," Kelsey said. "We do have three strong gymnasts and it would be amazing for us to do it. It would take a lot of hard work to get there. We still need to fill a lot of holes and learn more tricks."

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