Last year, Rolling Meadow’s Kelly Johnston and Barrington’s Abby Hasanov exploded onto the scene by finishing 3-4 in the all-around at the Mid-Suburban League meet.
The two sophomores picked up where they left off on Saturday at the 33rd annual Al Galatte Invite hosted by Rolling Meadows.
Each team was limited to two gymnasts for each event, and each gymnast was limited to one event.
Johnston and Hasanov made the most of their opportunities, with Johnston taking first on the beam (9.65) and Hasanov taking first on the bars (9.25)
Defending champion Prospect (69.2) edged Schaumburg (69.15) for first followed by Lake Park (68.1), Barrington (68.05), and Conant (67.625).
Johnston, who qualified to state meet on bars last season, kept it rolling on Saturday.
“It was outstanding,” said Rolling Meadows coach Mike Costa of his sophomore’s beam performance. “She was solid and she is really coming into her own this season. She’s worked really hard and is adding to her skills. She’s right on track.”
Hasanov is certainly on the right track, too. Last year, she advanced to Saturday’s finals at the state meet on vault and bars, but was pulled for the last session due to a high fever.
This year the Fillies sophomore has not missed a beat. She swept all four events and won the all-around (38.5) in a Tuesday dual meet victory.
Hasanov kept it going on Saturday.
“She’s hungry this year,” said Barrington coach Jason Loeffler. “Her skills were really good last year — they are even better this year. She’s worked really hard.”
Elk Grove senior Amelia Rafferty and Prospect senior Gianna Scala went 1-2 in the all-around at the MSL meet last year and were the top two returning conference gymnast this season.
But Rafferty is out with a hand injury and will not return until January. Scala injured her left knee on Monday and will miss the entire season with a torn ACL and a partial tear in her MCL.
That puts the spotlight directly on Johnston and Hasanov and the two sophomores rose to the challenge on Saturday.
Johnston hit a flip-flop layout on her beam routine and is looking to build on Saturday’s performance.
“This year I feel a lot more confident and I have added new skills,” said Johnston who shook off a mid week illness in hitting on Saturday. “I just want to continue to hit clean routines.”
Hasanov showed her improvement on beam by hitting a 9.75 on Tuesday, and flashed her skills on the bars on Saturday.
“I had a tough warm-up today, but I was able to push that aside,” said Hasanov who hit on a clean bar routine. “I feel more confident this year and our team is stronger. I am looking for a solid year.”
Prospect answered the challenge of losing Scala, a two-time floor state medalist, and showed some depth in its winning performance on Saturday.
“We needed this meet to reassure ourselves that we’re OK,” said Prospect coach Randy Smith of his team’s performance. “This was our type of meet — it’s a depth meet, and this is where we shine.”
Prospect sophomore Megan Donner took second on bars (9.2), freshman Megan Schmit was fourth place finish on vault (8.9) and senior Jackie Difonzo added a fifth-place finish on beam (8.9).
“Gianna’s injury was kind of a smack in the face, we all know we have to pick it up,” said Donner, who was limited last season due to a right elbow injury. “It felt good today; I was finally able to show everybody what I can do.”
Prospect ended the day with an exclamation point as junior Maddie Larock (9.10) and freshman Olivia Gonzalez (9.05) went 4-5 on the floor.
“Our goals haven’t changed,” said Larock, who was a state qualifier last season. “We are all looking to add a little bit here and there, and I was happy with how the team responded today.”
Schaumburg also showed its strength on Saturday, as the Saxons were nipping at Prospect the whole way in securing second place.
“Definitely happy,” said Schaumburg first-year coach Elizabeth Prostka, whose team hit a 137.45 in its opening dual meet victory over Wheeling. “They were all steady and we were solid the entire meet. We have high expectations and we’ll see what happens.”
Sophomore Alyssa Kiszka gave the Saxons an early lift by taking third on the vault (9.2), and junior Samantha Panther added a third-place finish on the bars (8.9).
“We work really hard together and we are there for each other,” said Kiszka. “We had a lot of energy today and it showed.”
Annalise Donati took third on the floor (9.1) and Rachel Fischer added a fourth-place finish on bars (8.85) in powering Lake Park to a third-place finish.
Last year, Barrington’s season high score was a 141.75, the Fillies easily surpassed that score in their dual meet victory over Buffalo Grove on Tuesday, hitting a 143.7.
The Fillies recovered from a rocky start on Saturday in taking fourth place capped by senior Brooke Morgan (9.6) and sophomore Molly Blanke (9.4) going 1-2 on the vault.
“It’s exciting,” said Morgan who hit a Yurchenko Pike in taking first on the vault. “We’re trying to pace ourselves early and then dream bigger.”
Sophomore Sarah Zorrilla nailed her back tuck, giving Conant a big lift by taking second on the beam (9.3) and helping the Cougars to a fifth-place finish.
“I’ve been kind of struggling with the back tuck,” said Zorrilla, “but we’ve been working through it at practice, and wanted to go for it today. I’ve cleaned up my routines and I’m looking for a big year.”
Sophomore Grace Korn gave Fremd a boost by taking third on the beam (9.0).
Glenbrook North Carli Betman (9.45) and Lake Forest Brittany Moccia (9.25) went 1-2 on the floor.Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.