Getting the opportunity to advance into the state finals was on the minds of many girls gymnasts during Friday's preliminaries at Palatine High School.
It was well worth the wait for Mundelein's McKenzie Kehr, who will be among the competitors when the meet resumes at 5:45 p.m. Saturday.
Kehr had to endure some extenuating circumstances on Friday before eventually learning that she'd finished eighth in the all-around with 37.075 and qualified first on the balance beam in a tie with Lyons' Katie Carling.
In her second event, Kehr hurt her hand on her first vault, leaving her fingers black and blue with some numbness. Then she hit her second effort, scoring a 9.45 -- but that left her just short of reaching the vaulting finals.
Kehr moved over to the bars, dealt with an equipment problem during her routine and was allowed to have another opportunity. She took advantage, scoring 9.425 to help her the all-around score.
Then, in her last event on beam, she started early, before the all judges were ready, and was told to start again. She did, and put together one of the best routines of the evening.
"It was an eventful evening," Kehr said. "I had second takes on bars and beam. I think with the retakes it helped with the nerves.
"One of the judges was ready and I thought everyone else was ready," Kehr said. "I was on the beam, they caught my attention to come down and start over. I really couldn't believe it, because nothing, really, has gone right here today. I really think it helped me to get through it all, and it's exciting."
Alyssa Weisberg of Stevenson also qualified on beam with a 9.35. She will get an opportunity to go after the top spot for the second straight year.
"It's been a long journey, and I'm just thinking of it as a new year," Weisberg said. "It's the same atmosphere, but it's a different year -- different people and a different team. I'm just going into it with a totally different perspective."
Others that competed in the preliminaries but didn't make the finals were Elizabeth Shank of Stevenson, Mariah Lee of Libertyville, Carmel's Anna Osowski and Antonia Durnil and Lake Forest's Brittany Moccia.
Claire Rose Ginsberg of Geneva won the all-around with 37.875, Lyons' Carling was second 37.7 and Kelsy Kurfirst took third with 37.6.
Lyons stands currently in first place with 150.55, with Prairie Ridge second at 148.25 and Fremd third at 146.675.