Neuqua Valley girls gymnastics coach Jo Ann Pschigoda had been waiting all season for the Wildcats to put it all together.
The Wildcats scored a season-best 135.2 points at Tuesday's Neuqua Valley regional but fell short of Naperville North, which claimed the regional title with 137.925 points. Sandburg/Stagg co-op was third with a 127.4 and Andrew was fourth with a 127.175.
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"We did have a few bobbles, but the thing is they kept working," Naperville North coach Chris Stanicek said. "I think they're confident and they're where they need to be right now with the right mindset, with their routines and their conditioning."
When Naperville North last won a regional title in 2010, seniors Carolyn Filarski and Kayla Kinder led the way. On Tuesday it was senior Kaitlyn Daly and sophomore Michaela Robert who contributed considerable all-around scores.
Andrew senior Jamie Valla and difficulty with the floor exercise stood in the way of an all-around title for Robert, who still earned second place. Daly followed with a 35.4.
Daly won vault, edging Robert, 9.575 to 9.35.
"I just let it all out today," Daly said. "On the bus ride we talked about this not being about placing but just going out and doing normal gymnastics. It paid off for us today."
Robert won bars with a 9.3 and tied Valla for top honors on beam with a 9.2. One could argue that her effort on beam was most impressive, as well as important for the Huskies. She followed a fall from Daly with a flip-flop back tuck.
"I've been so inconsistent with it throughout the season so hitting it was amazing, especially coming after some uncharacteristic falls on floor," Robert said. "I knew I needed to hit to finish strong for the team."
Carleigh Turner contributed three scores to the team's total, including a fifth-place 8.3 on floor. Stephanie Mueller also produced three significant totals, highlighted by an 8.85 fourth-place effort on floor. Shelby Porter came up big on vault and floor as did Allie Pecorin on beam for a Huskies team that's totally in sync.
"We've kept improving all season and are now peaking at the right time," Mueller said. "It's an amazing feeling getting called to the award stand. I love watching my teammates go up, and it's a new feeling for myself. I wouldn't change it for the world."
Neuqua Valley had its share of highlights, led by senior Sara Cushing winning the floor exercise with a 9.2 and placing fourth in the all-around with a 35.3. Also advancing to sectional competition for the Wildcats were Emily Jacobs, who was third on beam with an 8.775, and Shaniah Lim, who had a personal-record 8.9 on vault and tied Cushing for fifth place.
"I'm so pleased and happy," Pschigoda said. "They finally got to the point where they believed and it kind of fed the momentum for them to keep going and they fed off of each other."
Isis Ruff added an 8.45 on beam and 8.125 on bars for the regional hosts.
Naperville North moves on to the Hinsdale Central sectional next Wednesday. Neuqua Valley remains alive for an at-large team bid. The Wildcats will learn their fate once all of the regionals are completed at week's end.