Fond farewell to fans from Carmel's Feely
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When Carmel Catholic senior Lauren Feely finished her nearly flawless floor exercise routine in Saturday night's finals, she got up and waved to the crowd, knowing it was her last time performing in the girls gymnastics state meet.
Feely flipped and danced her way to a second-place score of 9.675 at Palatine High School.
"I was waving at my fans and everyone that came out to support us," Feely said. "I wanted to wave to all the parents that came to every meet, and all the kids from school that made it here for me. It meant so much for me.
"I'm so glad that this was my senior year and that's the way I'd like to have it remembered."
Feely sure helped make it a finals night to remember. She was a champion on the vault (9.825) and uneven parallel bars (9.375) along with runner-up on balance beam (9.375).
"I'm glad I went out and I hit everything," said Feely. "That's the best way to go out."
Over her three years, Feely achieved 12 medals, which puts her among the top achievers is Carmel's rich gymnastics history.
Feely also produced the third highest all-around score (38.7) for a gymnast from Lake County, and she ranks in the top 10 in state history. The two Lake County all-arounders ahead of her are Lindsay Borkan (Stevenson, 2004, 39.225) and Ashley Alden (Warren, 2001, 38.775).
"I never thought in a million years I would get even one (medals)," Feely said. "I never thought I would get that many. I was just taking things one at a time and just focused on one event."
Teammate Sarah Cohen-Smith landed a medal with fifth place on the vault (9.675). She was the vault champion last year and placed fifth as a sophomore.
"I feel honored that I was out there," Cohen-Smith said. "It wasn't my best vault, I still say, but I believe it was a good one. It was a good journey and a wonderful time."
Stevenson sophomore Alyssa Weisberg picked up honors as the beam champion, earning her first medal with a 9.525. She was the last one to perform on the beam.
"It's just a relief, because I was so worried about it," Weisberg said. "I was nervous. I just put it aside -- I knew what I had to do.
"Being the last one, it was like you were waiting and waiting and watching. You get to watch and you have all the energy. It can be something on the positive side."
Riley Trebilco of Stevenson tied for sixth on beam with Michelle Cozza of Lyons (9.375).
Alli Tran of Vernon Hills was named the IHGGCCA Senior Gymnast of the Year and in addition to earning a spot on the IHSA All-Academic team.
"I'm extremely honored for that award," said Tran, who also has participated in theater in the fall and track in the spring. "I'm glad for everyone that voted and has respect for me. It means that people see more than a gymnast -- a person and an all-around student.
In her only finals event, Tran finished tied for sixth on vault with Riley Mahoney of Prairie Ridge at 9.6. She improved from 10th last year. Tran had just missed a medal on vault by .075, and last year missed a medal by .025 on bars.
"I was talking to my mom (Michelle) Friday night," Tran said. "I've made it this far, and getting a medal would be nice. When you put it in perspective, I had a lot of great times through all of this. A medal is just a medal. Still, Top 10 in state is a huge honor and I'm grateful for that."
Lake Forest coach Robin Straus won coach of the year honors. She is retiring after 34 years.
Lake Forest's Katherine McKeon placed fifth on bars (9.35) and Kylie Carlson finished third on floor (9.625).
In the team competition, Lyons moved up from second place and won its first gymnastics state championship with 149.625. Lyons improved its score by .575 in the finals strong with beam routines from Katie Carling and Michelle Cozza and from Kelsey Kurfirst on the floor.
It's the first time a team on the final night has moved into first place since 1991.
Prairie Ridge took second place at 149.3 and Fremd finished third (146.05). Lake Forest ended up in sixth place (143.675).
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