First-year Fremd girls gymnastics head coach Elise Ference was dealt a bad hand before the season even started, losing one of her top all-around gymnasts, senior Shannon Lemajeur, for the season to an ACL injury.
But Ference, a 2007 Palatine graduate, had the Vikings dealing in a much different way Wednesday night in a Mid-Suburban West dual meet.
Junior Christine Jensen, sophomore Christine Radochonski and sophomore Sydney Plichta came up aces in leading the host Vikings to a 142.65-134.95 victory over Conant in Palatine.
Fremd was also missing seniors Stephanie Gallo and Anna Johnson, but the Vikings still rolled with a deep and versatile lineup.
"It's playing the cards," said Ference. "Every lineup is different, and we're just trying to place the girls where they can succeed and get some confidence."
Christine Radochonski gave the Vikings a huge opening lift by taking first on vault (9.4); she tied for first on beam (8.85) and closed the night by taking third on floor (9.05).
Radochonski missed a huge chunk of last season due to a foot injury but seems to be back in prime form now.
"I worked hard all summer," she said. "I'm just so happy to be back competing and contributing to the team."
Plichta picked up where she left off last year, when she earned a third-place state medal on the bars. The sophomore took first in the all-around (35.20), won bars (9.35) and also hit on vault (9.05).
"There's a few things we need to brush up on, but for our first home meet we did a good job," said Plichta. "We haven't reached our peak yet, and we're working in as many girls as possible."
Jensen also flashed her skills by taking first on floor (9.45), tying for first on beam (8.85) and adding a second-place finish on vault (9.25).
The Vikings' deep roster then filled in the gaps with freshman Lisa Radochonski taking second on bars (8.75), freshman Olivia Miles adding a third on vault (9.2) and senior Mary Smaga taking third on bars (8.5).
Junior Meicie Bennett and senior Sarah Starzynski anchored a young Conant attack. Bennett took second on floor (9.15), third on beam (8.8) and placed third in the all-around (34.15).
Starzynski took second in the all-around (34.25) helping pace the Cougars with a strong vault (8.95) and floor (8.9).
Freshman Sarah Zorrilla added a fourth-place finish on the bars (8.4) and junior Rachel Tong took fourth on the beam (8.7) to help pace an up-and-coming Cougars team that features a pair of freshmen and a sophomore.
"We did OK today; it seemed like we had a little more nerves than the first two meets," said Starzynski. "The new girls have a lot of potential; they're just getting used to everything."