Prospect sophomore Maddie Larock was a big hit at the Palatine Invite on Saturday.
Larock was solid from start to finish in leading Prospect to the title with a season high 142.125 points in the eight team field.
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Larock (37.575) and junior Gianna Scala (37.25) went 1-2 in the all-around setting the tone for Prospect and helping the Knights secure their first Palatine Invite title.
Host Palatine was not to far off pace in taking second with 140.875 points, followed by Naperville North (130.275), York (130.20) and Glenbrook South (124.525).
Larock started the day by taking third on the vault (9.325). She then sizzled in taking first on the bars (9.45), added a strong second-place finish on the beam (9.45) and capped her day with a second-place finish on the floor (9.35).
"She's rock solid," said Prospect coach Randy Smith of Larock, who has teamed with Scala in giving the Knights a powerful 1-2 punch. "She's a special kid with a lot of raw talent and she has really matured this season. She's getting comfortable with herself."
Scala has been the anchor for Prospect the past two seasons, but with the emergence of Larock the Knights are starting to think big.
"It's exciting," said Larock. "I'm definitely feeling a lot more confident this season, and I think it's because the support from the team."
Scala was terrific with a first on the vault (9.625), and then ended with another first-place finish in an eye-opening floor routine (9.775). In between the junior added a fifth on bars (8.9) and a fourth on beam (8.95)
"So far this season I've been hitting floor really well," said Scala, who was fifth at state on the floor last season. "When everyone else hits before me, it's a great feeling to go on and finish off for the team."
Sophomore Maddie Boldt provided a sixth-place finish on the bars (8.775) and freshman Megan Donner took sixth on the beam (8.625) for the Knights.
"This is hopefully just the tip of the iceberg for us," said Smith. "We still have a lot left."
Palatine was nipping at Prospect's heels all afternoon, and the Pirates received a huge lift on beam as senior Abby Alden won with an impressive 9.5.
Senor Nicole Kuksuk was limited to two events, but she made the most of it by taking third on the beam (9.1), with sophomore Claudia Przystal adding a fifth-place finish on beam (8.9).
"Beam was awesome," said Palatine coach Terry Theobald whose took first on the event with an impressive 36.0 points. "It really picked us up today. We're going in the right direction, we just have to peak at the right time."
With Alden leading the way, and the return of Kuksuk to full-time action, that should not be a problem.
Alden anchored the attack on Saturday, adding third in the all-around (36.70), fourth on bars (9.1) and fifth on floor (9.075) to go with her stunning beam performance.
"It was a total team effort on the beam today," said Alden who was a state qualifier on last year on beam. "I just feel really comfortable and I'm hitting my series."
Przystal has also emerged as threat this year for Palatine, and the sophomore helped fill the gaps on Saturday by adding a third-place finish on the floor (9.275) and a fourth-place finish in the all-around (35.825).
"We're improving each meet and we're focusing on sticking," said Przystal. "With Nicole (Kuksuk) coming back we keep getting better and our best is yet to come."
Sophomore Andrea Ori also gave the Pirates a boost with a fifth on vault (9.075).
Sophomore Michaela Robert set the tone for Naperville North by taking fifth in the all-around (35.70). Roberts added a third on bars (9.3), fourth on vault (9.15), and a sixth on floor (8.95).
"I think the floor series started things off well and it carried through the whole meet," said Robert.
Senior Kaitlyn Daly came up big with a second-place finish on vault (9.45) for the Huskies.
"We're still having some difficulties on the beam," said Naperville North coach Chris Stanicek. "But Kaitlyn and Michaela really came up big for us today."
Libertyville was not at full strength due to injuries, and the Wildcats' performance suffered a bit in a sixth-place finish.
But junior Mariah Lee gave the Wildcats a boost with a second-place finish on bars (9.325).
"It really comes down to practice, what you do in the gym is what is going to happen at the meets," said Lee of her bar series. "I was able to focus on what I needed to do."