Fittest loser
Article updated: 1/29/2013 11:32 PM

Fremd absorbs beam bobbles; Meadows' Johnston excels

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By Michael Eaken

Fremd wobbled a bit at the finish, but the Viking were able to keep it together.

Fremd cruised through the first two events on the vault (36.475) and bars (36.775) and looked to be headed for an impressive score.

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The beam (34.825) put a dent in the Vikings' attack, but they survived four falls in winning a 21st consecutive regional title with 143.525 points at their own gym in Palatine.

Lake Park took second with 136.275 points, followed by Rolling Meadows (130.575), and Maine West (115.175).

Fremd advances to its own sectional next Monday at 6:30 p.m.

"The skills are all -- there we just have to hit," said Fremd coach Elise Ference. "We're looking for the big hit."

Rolling Meadows freshman Kelly Johnston was definitely a big hit. The Mustang freshman took first in the all-around (36.50), earning first-place finishes on floor (9.325) and beam (9.25), adding a second on vault (9.325) and a fifth-place finish on bars (8.6).

"I think she is showing people that she is the real deal," said Rolling Meadows coach Mike Costa of his freshman star. "She's worked real hard the whole season, and she motivated, and she wants to prove a point. I think she did that tonight."

There have only been two scores above 9.0 rewarded on the beam at the first two regionals, and Johnston was able to secure one of them on Tuesday.

"I just want to do what I've been doing in practice," said Johnston of her beam routine. "I wanted to go into this meet with no regrets."

Fremd once again set the tone early on the vault and bars, as junior Christine Jensen (9.3), sophomore Christine Radochonski (9.15), and freshman Lisa Radochonski (9.125) went 3-5 on vault.

The Vikings sent in a second wave on the bars with sophomore Sydney Plichta (9.325), sophomore Emily Neal (9.3), senior Emily Pinderski (9.25), and senior Mary Smaga (8.9) taking 1-4.

"Those two events definitely get us going," said Neal who added a second place finish on the floor (9.2). "Now we just have to focus in practice and tidy up the fine details."

Jensen took second on the beam (8.85) in helping the Viking recover a bit at the end.

"I was really focused on staying on the beam," said Jensen who also took third in the all-around (34.90). "I just wanted to finish it off strong. We know where we need to improve, and we definitely need to get to work on those."

Lake Park also had its share of troubles on the beam scoring a 32.975, but the Lancers responded with a strong finish on the floor (35.475).

Sophomore Annalise Donati led the charge by tying for fourth place (9.05).

"It was a great way to finish," said Donati who also took fourth in the all-around (34.575). "We had our troubles on the beam but we were able to pull it together."

Jacobs sophomore Allison Riedel used a sizzling Yurchenko layout in taking first on the vault (9.625) and also added third place finish on the floor (9.125).

Riedel also took second in the all-around (35.475).

"I definitely feel a lot more comfortable this year," said Riedel, a state qualifier last season. "I was a bit intimidated last year, but I'm feeling more confident with my skills this season."

Maine West freshman Marissa Gradie took third on the beam (8.825) and finished fifth in the all-around (34.50) in leading the Warriors.

"I just went for it on the beam," said Gradie, who also notched 8.95 on the floor. "The floor and beam are definitely two of my better events."

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