Michaela Robert made an impression from the very beginning of her time with the gymnastics team at Naperville North, advancing to state her first two years in high school.
Now that she's stronger and more experienced, Robert appears ready to lead the Huskies to even greater things. On Saturday she took fifth in the all-around and helped them bring home a third-place plaque in the Mike Williams Big Purple Invitational at Downers Grove North.
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It was the Huskies' best finish in the Invitational since 2006. They took fifth last year and have improved their place the past four years.
"We've gotten off to a good start, but we still have some work to do," Huskies coach Chris Stanicek said. "We had some uncharacteristic misses on floor today and we know what we need to focus on when we get back in the gym."
Robert scored a 36.45 overall. She was second on beam with a 9.175 and also earned medals with third-place finishes on bars and vault, with a 9.425 in each event. Her only real big mistake was a fall on floor.
"I was shaky on floor during warmups and it was just something with my second pass," she said. "For the most part though I was happy with how I did with beam and bars, and vault is pretty much my most consistent event."
Sophomore newcomer Anneli Kawaoka had fantastic scores, placing seventh in the all-around with a 35.025 and fourth on vault with a 9.4. She'll certainly help alleviate the loss of graduate Kaitlyn Daly.
"I'm so excited for this year and I think we can do really well as a team, and today getting third really showed some of that," Robert said. "I've had a chance to go to state, but I'm more excited about what we're capable of doing as a team if we keep our focus, work hard and avoid silly mistakes."
Naperville Central placed fifth with a 101.4. The Redhawks got a huge effort from sophomore Jill Schuberth. She placed eighth in the all-around with a 34.95 and went to the award stand with a fourth-place effort of 9.1 on floor.
"This was my first big meet and I think it went pretty well for me," Schuberth said. "I know a lot of the girls and they've helped me. It's been a lot of fun."
Schuberth is a former club gymnast who was looking for a change of venue.
"Club got a little too stressful and I wanted to still do the sport," she said. "I figured with this, it's right after school and that it would be better."
Claire Savard added a 33.025 for the Redhawks.
"I had an idea after Thursday about how we'd do here and we did pretty well today," Redhawks coach Glen Reimers said. "We did pretty well Thursday too and I was hoping that it would transfer over and it did."
Yet another newcomer, freshman Veronike Srey, had a big performance for Glenbard East. She was sixth in the all-around with a 35.1 to lead the Rams to sixth place with a 98.825.
"We've got a lot of girls returning which is what you need to keep getting better," Rams coach Jessica Bugajsky said. "We did pretty well today."
Fremd's Christine Jensen took second in the all-around with a 37.075 and Sydney Plichta won the beam with a 9.32 to help the Vikings place second with a 108.8. Defending state champions Lyons won with a 111.3.