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updated: 2/5/2014 10:54 PM

Rafferty in fine form; Prairie Ridge wins at Lake Park

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By Michael Eaken
Daily Herald Correspondent

Elk Grove's Amelia Rafferty started the season on the sidelines, but the Grenadiers senior came back with a vengeance.

Rafferty injured her right hand in early November and did not return to the gym until late December, but she more than made up for lost time on Wednesday at the Lake Park regional.

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Rafferty was in a zone from start to finish in taking second place in the all-around (37.825).

"She seems to be completely back," said Elk Grove coach Heather DeCook of her senior star, who is two-time state qualifier. "She is very comfortable and she had a lot of focus today."

Prairie Ridge co-op was also locked in, securing the regional title with an impressive 148.375l points in Roselle.

Lake Park took second with a season-best score of 137.65, followed by Hersey (136.675 points) and Elk Grove (127.95 points).

Prairie Ridge co-op finished second (in 2013) and third (in 2012) at state meet the past two season, and the Wolves will advance to the Conant sectional as a team on Monday at 6:30 p.m.

Last year Rafferty won the Mid-Suburban League all-around title and qualified to the state meet in the all-around, vault, beam and floor. But her early season injury cast a shadow on her senior season.

On Friday, Rafferty finished fourth in the all-around at the MSL meet.She continued to impress on Wednesday, taking second on both the beam (9.45) and floor (9.575), adding a third-place finish on vault (9.45) and taking fourth on bars (9.35) to erase any lingering doubts about her early setback.

"I didn't think I was going to make it back, and even if I did I thought my routines would be watered down," said Rafferty. " But I am really happy how it is turning out."

The Grenadiers senior capped her night by hitting on the floor with a controlled routine.

"I slipped up on the floor at conference," added Rafferty. "But it felt good to hit tonight. I was in control."

Prairie Ridge co-op swept the top three spots on the bars and placed four gymnasts in the top five on vault.

Junior Rachael Underwood, a Cary-Grove student, led the way by taking first in the all-around (38.525). She also won bars (9.625), beam (9.625) and floor (9.725), adding a second-place finish on the vault (9.55) in a command performance.

"It's probably my best performance of the year," said Underwood, who has helped cover for the loss of junior standout Riley Mahoney, who injured a knee in early January. "Our expectations are still the same without Riley. We believe we can do our best even without her. I mean, it will be tough -- but it will make us work even harder."

Sophomore Maddie Solka took third in the all-around 37.0, adding a first on vault (9.6) and a second on bars (9.4), with sophomore Kendall Rumford taking fourth in the all-around (36.7) to bolster the Wolves.

Junior Annalise Donati led the host Lancers by taking fifth in the all-around (36.225), tying for fourth on the floor (9.075) and taking fifth on the beam (9.15).

"Our team has come really far this season," said Donati. "I had a lot of confidence going into beam and was able to stick the entire routine. I was real happy with the performance."

Hersey senior Annie Johnson hyperextended both her knees last Thursday and missed the subsequent MSL meet. But the Huskies senior was back on Wednesday with both knees wrapped, and was able to pull out a fifth-place finish on the bars (9.0).

"I wanted to finish the season," said Johnson of her bar performance. "It felt good to complete my bar set."

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