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updated: 2/16/2013 11:23 PM

Glenbard West's O'Keefe fourth on parallel bars

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By Bill Stone
Daily Herald Correspondent

Glenbard West sophomore Mackenzie O'Keefe took a big step this gymnastics season by setting the school all-around record -- twice.

She capped her season Saturday with another huge accomplishment, her first all-state medal.

O'Keefe finished fourth on the uneven parallel bars to earn a top-five medal at the state meet event finals at Palatine High School.

"It's all such a rush right now," O'Keefe said. "I don't even remember (my routine) because it happened so fast, but I was excited that I hit my dismount because that was the one thing that I was worried about."

O'Keefe had the Hilltoppers' fourth all-state performance on uneven bars, all since Carlos Fuentes became coach in 2001-02. O'Keefe, who tied for 14th on uneven bars in 2012, also was 10th in all-around Friday with a 37.25 after a school-record 38.125 Jan. 26.

"We thought she had the potential all year to be a top-five athlete on uneven bars," Fuentes said. "We always talk about to be a state medalist, you have to be consistent, talented and hardworking, and she's all three of those. It's good validation to all of the hard work she put in on bars this year."

In its first state team appearance, Geneva placed fifth (145.225) with Glenbard West (143.425) and St. Charles co-op (141.675) seventh and eighth.

Teams improved their scores from Friday's preliminaries if their individuals in the event finals improved their scores. None of the three area teams boosted their totals, but Lyons Township (149.625) improved four routines by a combined .575 to overtake Prairie Ridge co-op (149.30) for its first state championship. Fremd (146.05) was third.

In their final high school routines, Glenbard North senior Mariah Matesi was eighth on balance beam, and York senior Alyna Gagliardi and Geneva senior Ashley Puff were seventh and ninth, respectively, on floor.

"We went 19 for 20 (on hit routines Friday). The icing on the cake, of course, is having Ashley get through as a senior," Geneva coach Kim Hostman said. "Getting here was really such a big accomplishment because we worked all season for it and it was our goal."

Matesi was an all-state fourth on floor last year and hurt her right ankle competing floor Friday. Despite a strong beam effort in the finals, she missed fifth by .075 mainly because nine of the 11 finalists hit their sets.

"I've never seen so many people so consistent (on beam). It was tough competition," Matesi said. "I'm very satisfied. My only goal was to stay on the beam and do the best I could and I feel like that's what I did. Placing is always better, but I'm really happy with myself because I feel like beam is tougher than floor sometimes."

Puff became only the second event finalist in Geneva history. The three-year state qualifier was a main reason behind the Vikings' program-making history this season and achieving their second-highest score at state next to their school-record 146.275 to win regionals.

"Over my three years (our team) has grown and gotten better," Puff said. "There's so many memories I'll always have with the team. Making it to state and being with them and then qualifying for finals, it's been a great year."

Glenbard West's other finalist, freshman Amber Broucek, was 10th on beam. Broucek and Barrington's Abby Hasanov, who scratched her two finals because of illness, were the lone freshmen to reach the finals and Broucek was the first freshman finalist for Fuentes.

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