Kuksuk, Alden lead Palatine to regional title
Palatine seniors Nicole Kuksuk and Abby Alden were able to hit when it counted in Wednesday night's girls gymnastics regional hosted by the Pirates.
Kuksuk tied for first on the beam (9.45) and Alden took third on beam (9.125) in helping Palatine nip Barrington 139.25-139.775 as the Pirates secured their 15th regional title.
Buffalo Grove finished third with 127.325 points, followed by Hersey's 126.25.
Palatine advances to the Fremd sectional Monday at 6:30 p.m., and Barrington took a firm hold on the top at-large bid for the sectional.
The beam had been a sore spot in the first two regionals this week at Prospect and Fremd, but both Palatine (35.575) and Barrington (34.975) held on tight on Wednesday.
"It was awesome," said Palatine coach Terry Theobald of his team counting only one fall on the beam. "The first girl started us off and we kept the momentum going."
Sophomore Morgan Anderson gave the Pirates that kick start on beam (8.1), and sophomore Andrea Ori (8.4) and sophomore Claudia Przystal (8.6) kept things rolling.
"We've definitely have been doing a lot of numbers on beam," said Kuksuk who was limited to two events after returning from a shoulder and elbow injury that has put a drag on her senior season. "To be out there again and to be able to stick it felt really good."
Alden was also looking good taking second in the all-around (36.325), and adding a pair of second-place finishes on the vault (9.325) and bas (9.225).
"After everyone else hit, we just had a lot of motivation," said Alden of the beam performance. "We kept feeding off each other. It was really exciting."
Przystal took fourth in the all-around (34.875), fourth on bars (8.6), and added a pair of fifth-place finishes on the vault (8.85) and beam to help power Palatine.
Senior Megan Hedstrom added a fifth-place finish on the bars (8.575) for the Pirates.
Barrington freshman Abby Hasanov was totally locked in from start to finish taking first in the all-around (37.85), adding three first-place finishes on the vault (9.6), bars (9.25), and floor (9.55), and tying for first on the beam (9.45) in a sparkling performance.
"She feeds off the pressure, I think she works better under it," said Barrington coach Jason Loeffler of his freshman sensation.
Hasanov started the night with Yurchenko layout on vault, reached new heights on her tumbling routine on the floor, and then nailed the beam to end the night.
"I do better when I'm under pressure," said Hasanov. "With the support of my teammates I knew I had it tonight."
The Fillies recorded only two falls for the entire night, with freshman Molly Blanke adding a third-place finish on vault (9.2) and a fourth-place finish on beam (9.0).
Sophomore Tara Schumann (8.975) and sophomore Jada Jones (8.95) gave Barrington a lift on the floor, finishing 4-5. Freshman Amanda Morgan tied for fifth on beam (8.6).
Buffalo Grove senior Jordan Mann made the most of qualifying for her first state sectional by taking third on the floor (9.0) and fifth in the all-around (34.225).
"It's big," said Mann of her performance. "Everything came together, I was just mentally prepared."
Hersey junior Annie Johnson is seeking her first state qualification and she took a big step forward on Wednesday.
Johnson took fourth in the all-around (35.65), second on the floor (9.2), adding a third-place finish on the bars (8.9) and a fourth-place finish on the vault (9.025).
"I was nervous going into the meet, but I got more comfortable with each event," said Johnson. "Having a strong meet definitely boosted my confidence."
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