Vanden Eykel helps Lake Park raise the bar
Jesse-Lee Vanden Eykel was the only gymnast to represent Lake Park on the award stand immediately following Saturday's Neuqua Valley Invite.
Vanden Eykel made the quick trip to receive a medal and pose for photos, but it was her efforts earlier in the day, along with the consistent performance of her teammates, that helped Lake Park earn second place in the eight-team field with 136.7 points.
As anticipated, Prairie Ridge co-op cruised to the championship with a total of 145.775. Lincoln-Way co-op was third with 134.6 points.
"We aren't expecting to challenge Prairie Ridge anytime soon," Lancers coach Jake Luketin said. "We probably had one of the best bar days we've had all year. We were pretty decent on the other events and were in the middle of where I thought we would be, so all in all, we're pretty happy with a second place here."
Vanden Eykel also took seventh on vault with a 9.1. Other notable finishers for the Lancers included a sixth-place 8.95 on bars and an eighth-place 8.55 on floor from Sofia Tobon.
Annalise Donati led the Lancers by tying for sixth in the all-around with an 8.5875 average and a 34.35 overall. Linnae Capuder also went in the all-around with a 33.175 and Ericka Mack added an 8.475 on beam.
The host Wildcats took fifth place with 132.125 points, but they received a memorable effort from senior Sara Cushing.
Cushing won the floor exercise with a 9.05 and also placed second on beam with an 8.95. She appeared on the way to a fall on beam before righting herself and then finishing with a flourish.
"I wobbled a little bit on beam, but overall it was a great routine and I was so glad I stayed on," Cushing said. "On floor, that really was unexpected. I just went out there and tried to do as well as a I could and be strong for the team."
Cushing also ended up as one of the best all-arounders, taking fifth place with a 34.775. Isis Ruff, Emily Jacobs and Allie Winek also were busy four-event performers for the Wildcats.
Up-and-coming freshman Maddie Nowak continued her fantastic debut campaign, placing second in the all-around with a 36.425 to help Hinsdale South place fourth with a 132.775.
Casey Boksha had a 32.2 in the all-around and contributed to Addison Trail scoring 114.8 and taking seventh place.
Returning state-qualifier Jess Malon took fourth on bars for Waubonsie Valley/Metea Valley co-op with a 9.35, but she was limited to that lone event due to injuries, spending most of the afternoon in a walking boot.
She's not the only one hurting for Waubonsie Valley/Metea Valley. Three regulars were unavailable due to injury.
Alaina Kapla posted the top scores on bars and floor and also finished with a 32.025 in the all-around for Waubonsie Valley/Metea Valley. Carolyn Jennrich also was busy in the all-around with a 31.1 and led the team on beam with a 7.85. Micahela Valatkas added a team-best 8.65 on vault.
"We've only got two gymnasts on floor and then we literally only have four on the other three events," Waubonsie/Metea coach Nicole Daly said. "So it's not been a good season in terms of injuries."
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