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updated: 12/6/2017 9:33 PM

Girls gymnastics: An all-around optimistic outlook for Amato, Palatine

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  • Palatine's Abby Amato competes on the balance beam during Wednesday's home meet against Barrington.

      Palatine's Abby Amato competes on the balance beam during Wednesday's home meet against Barrington.
    Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Barrington's Brooke Husby competes on the floor exercise during Wednesday's meet at Palatine.

      Barrington's Brooke Husby competes on the floor exercise during Wednesday's meet at Palatine.
    Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Barrington's Lauren Tenbrunsel competes on the uneven parallel bars during Wednesday's meet at Palatine.

      Barrington's Lauren Tenbrunsel competes on the uneven parallel bars during Wednesday's meet at Palatine.
    Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Palatine's Alyssa Eckels competes on the balance beam during Wednesday's meet against Barrington.

      Palatine's Alyssa Eckels competes on the balance beam during Wednesday's meet against Barrington.
    Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

 
By Michael Eaken
Daily Herald Correspondent

Palatine senior Abby Amato ended last season on a high note, qualifying to the girls gymnastics state meet in the all-around, uneven bars, beam and floor exercise.

And this season, the Pirates senior seems to have picked up where she left off.

Amato sure looked comfortable on Wednesday in taking first in the all-around (36.10) and powering host Palatine to an impressive 140.20-128.05 Mid-Suburban League West victory over visiting Barrington.

Amato won the bars (9.05), added second-place finishes on the beam (8.7) and floor (9.25) and also tied for second on the vault (9.1).

"It took a lot of hard work to get to state last year, and I definitely have that in mind this year," said Amato. "It's exciting to have that state experience, and I'm striving for that again this year -- and hopefully bringing my teammates along."

So far, so good. The Pirates certainly looked like a team with state potential on Tuesday, and their score nearly equalled last year's top effort.

Freshman Alyssa Eckels (35.0) and freshman Elly Nilsen (34.4) provided a nice jolt in going 2-3 in the all-around. Eckels made quite the impression, taking first on the vault (9.2) and beam (8.9) along with a third-place finish on bars (8.6).

Nilsen did her part by tying for second on vault (9.1), adding a third-place finish on floor (8.8) and tying for third place on beam (8.4).

"The younger kids are coming in and sparking the older kids," said Palatine coach Terry Theobald. "We have more depth this season and we're headed in the right direction."

Senior Callee Aikman (9.30) capped a big night for the Pirates by securing first on the floor.

"We have a lot of potential this year," said Aikman. "We just have a really good bond, and that has helped. We still can improve and we know the scores are going to improve."

"Yeah, we are picking up where we left off last year and we added a couple of new girls," Amato said. "I think it will be good."

Barrington also flashed a bit of potential. Sophomore Lauren Tenbrunsel is looking to anchor the Fillies' effort this season. Although she was limited to two events on Wednesday, she left her mark. Tenbrunsel took second on bars with 8.9.

"I'm excited to be competing again," said Tenbrunsel who missed a chunk of last season due to a hand injury but still was able to qualify to the state meet on floor. "We have a lot of work to do, but I'm happy with our start."

Junior Sarah Ruesch (8.4) gave the Fillies a lift by tying for third place on beam along with a fourth-place finish on vault (9.0). Sophomore Alana Riemenschneider added a fourth-place finish on floor (8.6).

"It was a rough meet, but we have a ton of potential," said Barrington coach Jason Loeffler of his young squad. "It is kind of like an unpolished stone at this point, but I know I have a really talented team."

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