There wasn't much Fremd's Christine Radochonski could do as her Yurchenko pike got away from her. She went straight forward, flying over the vaulting table on her first vault effort Saturday afternoon at the New Trier invite in Winnetka.
Miraculously, Radochonski later recovered, producing an unbelievable second vault for a second-best 9.6 score. That was a key in helping Fremd take first place over host New Trier 145.025-144.825. Stevenson finished third (139.475).
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"That's what a competitor is, there's no other way to explain it," Fremd coach Elise Ference said. "Most kids would've crumbled on the second vault and probably wouldn't want to go. She stepped up, and you can't ask for more than that as a coach."
On that errant first vault, the Vikings sophomore soared through the air and it looked like disaster awaited her on the landing. Instead, Fremd assistant coach Kevin Jost reached out and made a saving stop, bringing her down safely on the mat.
After Jost made the stop, the transference of momentum carried him further. Thankfully, his impact was cushioned by a mat curled up against the wall.
"It helps that I'm familiar with the girls," said Jost, a former gymnast and wrestler from Buffalo Grove High School. "A lot of times I'm anticipating what's going to happen. A lot of times you can't, though, and you just have to be ready.
"I saw her hands miss, and that's when I stepped in. I knew the rotation of the flip that would carry to her neck or head. So I absorbed her back when she was coming down to the mat."
The best part of the visually scary scenario: neither was injured.
"It really didn't freak me out all that much," said Radochonski, who broke her leg last year as a freshman but still competed on beam during Fremd's state run. "I was too far on the board and my hands slipped off the floor. I didn't have much follow through. I got a bit of a hand on the back end of the table.
"I tried to stay calm and was glad that (Jost) was there to save me. I was thankful he was there."
Radochonski got up took a deep breath, then calmly walked back for a second attempt at the same vault.
"My teammates helped me out a lot," she said, "and gave me a lot of encouraging words to calm down. 'You know how to do this.' I just convinced myself that I do know how to do this. Without my teammates, I'm not sure I would've been able to do it."
The Vikings had three gymnasts -- Emily Pinderski (9.525), Sydney Plichta (9.5) and Stephanie Gallo (9.425) -- take second, third and fourth on parallel bars. Christine Jenson finished third on floor with a (9.375) and Pinderski was fourth (9.35). Plichta also landed third on beam 9.275.
Alyssa Weisberg won the top spot on beam (9.45) for the Patriots.
"I've just been working hard at it lately," said Weisberg, who also had a 9.6 in a dual meet against Lake Forest earlier in the week. "I've always had an easy time with beam. It's not my most difficult event."
Becca Feltman-Frank was third in the all-around (36.1) for Stevenson behind New Trier's Kerry Scafidi (38.1) and Hinsdale Central's Erin Morgan (37.15). Feltman-Frank also placed fifth on each the vault (9.475) and bars (9.4).
Sarah Cohen-Smith had the top vault for Carmel with a 9.825.
"There's always room for improvement," said Cohen-Smith, who produced her best vault score of the season. "The team motivates me a lot."
Cohen-Smith also placed fifth in the all-around (35.925) and fifth on floor (9.325).
Carmel finished fifth as a team with 138.15. The Corsairs were without Lauren Feely who missed the meet because of a family commitment.
Becky Stochl of Warren placed fourth on the vault with a 9.5.