Lyons Township ended Friday’s preliminaries at the girls gymnastics state meet trailing Prairie Ridge Co-op by .25 points for first place.
But the Lions came roaring back at Saturday’s finals, passing up Prairie Ridge to secure its first state title with 149.625 points at Palatine High School.
Prairie Ridge earned its second consecutive state trophy, taking second with 149.30 points, followed by Fremd (146.05). The Vikings earned their 21st state trophy with a third-place finish.
New Trier (145.375) took fourth place, followed by Geneva (145.225), Lake Forest (143.675), Glenbard West (143.425), and St. Charles Co-op (141.675).
Carmel senior Lauren Feely, who won the all-around on Friday continued her dominant performance on Saturday by taking first on the vault (9.825) and bars (9.625), and adding second-place finishes on the beam (9.475) and floor (9.675).
Lyons improved its score by .575 points on Saturday to earn the title. The Lions made scoring gains on 4 of the 8 individual events in which they’d qualified.
The momentum shifted on the beam with junior Katie Carling (9.425, third place) and junior Michelle Cozza (9.375) both improving their scores by .175 points pushing the Lions into the lead for good.
Sophomore Kelsey Kurfirst capped the comeback by taking first on floor (9.725), improving her score by .175 points.
“We were excited coming into today, not really knowing what to expect,” said Kurfirst who also took second on the vault (9.725) and tied for third on the beam (9.425). “We knew we had the potential to do something big and we did it.”
The Prairie Ridge sophomore duo of Rachel Underwood and Riley Mahoney continued to impress on Saturday in leading the Wolves to their second consecutive state trophy.
Underwood, who tied for second in the all-around on Friday, tied for a second place medal on the bars (9.5) and also tied for third on the vault (9.7).
“Overall it’s very exciting,” said Underwood of her team’s performance. “We held it together and did the best we could.”
Mahoney, who earned a fifth-place medal on beam (9.4), added more difficulty to her floor routine when her team fell behind on the third rotation. She ended up taking eighth place (9.4).
“It was nerve wracking knowing that I had to hit the routine,” said Mahoney who also tied for sixth place on the vault (9.6). “I tried my hardest — Lyons earned it tonight, but our team did its best.”
Fremd seniors Shannon LeMajeur, Stephanie Gallo, Emily Pinderski, Anna Johnson, and Mary Smaga were part of the Vikings’ last state trophy as freshmen in a third-place finish in 2010.
The five seniors ended where they started, with another trophy.
LeMajeur missed all of the season with an ACL injury, and Gallo went out with an ACL injury in January. But Pinderski, Johnson, and Smaga helped guide the Vikings.
“It wasn’t easy, but these senior deserve a lot of credit in driving this team,” said first year Fremd head coach Elise Ference. “We have a lot of young talent, but the seniors set the tone.”
Johnson set the tone for the Vikings’ trophy drive in Friday’s preliminaries with her performance on the floor. The senior came back from broken ankles her freshman and junior years to push the attack this season.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end it,” said Johnson of the senior class bookend trophies. “This was a dream team.”
Sophomore Sydney Plichta finished sixth for the Vikings on bars (9.175) and added a ninth-place finish on beam (9.25).
“I was really excited to go out there and do my best,” said Plichta who earned a third-place medal on the bars as a freshman. “We will miss the seniors, but we have a lot of young talent coming back and we will continue to build.”
Prospect’s Gianna Scala continued to build on her personal medal count. Last season she tied for fifth on the floor at state; this year the Knights junior tied for fourth (9.55) and earned a second state medal.
“My goal is always to do better than I’ve done before, and I was able to move up this year,” said Scala who added more difficulty in her jump series on the floor. “I was probably a bit more nervous this year, but I fed off my nerves. I just went out there and gave it everything I had.”
St. Edward senior Abby Madden was chasing an elusive state medal, and the Green Wave senior was able to deliver by tying for fifth in the all-around on Friday. Madden completed her senior year in Saturday’s final by taking ninth on bars (8.775) and 11th on beam (8.7).
“I was just happy to get on the podium for the first time,” said Madden, “I was just freaking out when I found out I had earned a medal. It’s nice ending on a high note.”
Madden definitely polished off her skills in each event this season and became a dominant all-around performer, including winning the all-around title at the Fremd sectional.
“She has a lot of the same skills, but she has been working harder to become more consistent,” said St. Edward coach Doug Bucholzs. “The all-around medal was just icing on the cake.”
Elk Grove junior Amelia Rafferty missed qualifying for the state meet last season, but the Grenadiers junior was a force this season. She took eighth place on the vault (9.475) and just missed earning her first state medal by .05 points, taking sixth place on the floor (9.5).
“I was just excited to be here,” said Rafferty of her state performance. “I was happy I was able to stick my floor routine.”
Barrington freshman Abby Hasanov qualified in finals for both the vault and bars, but the Fillies frosh was pulled from Saturday’s finals with a 103-degree fever.
Hasanov warmed up for the finals, but a decision was made not to risk it for safety concerns.
“I think we pulled every ounce out of her last night, and it just didn’t leave anything for today,” said Barrington coach Jason Loeffler, who saw finish seventh in state in the all-around Friday. “She has three more years, and her potential is sky high.”Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.