The future is bright at Glenbard East.
It's also right now for the Rams, who have some talented underclassmen who are also delivering in the biggest meets.
Those youngsters helped the Rams win Monday's Glenbard East regional in Lombard. They beat St. Charles co-op for the third time this season, 142.875 to 139.975 to advance to the Lake Park sectional on Feb. 8.
Willowbrook was third with a 120.2 and Leyden also competed with a 114.975.
During Saturday's Upstate Eight Conference meet, also at Glenbard East, the Rams defeated St. Charles co-op by 1.225. They also narrowly edged the co-op by 0.45 in early December.
"I felt we did really well this meet," Glenbard East freshman Kali Kartheiser said. "We could always do better, but overall I thought we did really well. Now we know for sure that we're going (to sectional) so we claimed our spot tonight and that's the big thing and it's a very good feeling."
Kartheiser didn't fold under the added pressure of the state series. She continues to shine not only as one of the state's top freshmen but top all-around gymnasts as well. She won the all-around with a 37.625. She also won bars and beam and took second on vault and floor.
Fellow freshman Becca Honig took fourth in the all-around with a 35.1, while sophomore Kelsey Donovan edged her for third with a 35.15.
"We came in very confident and we're excited now for sectionals," Donovan said. "We plan on adding a lot more big skills. We've been consistent and we've scored a 144. Last year we were trying so hard to break 139 so the 140s we're scoring every single meet is a huge confidence booster."
Although it was her first regional, Honig performed like a seasoned vet and acknowledged that she didn't have a belly full of butterflies.
"I think we were only really tense because we didn't know if we were going to win, but we were relaxed and just kept it all together," she said. "I think working harder in practice has helped our confidence and gets us ready for this."
Junior specialist Sierra Olson added two big scores on bars and vault, while sophomore Grace Tu contributed on beam and senior Krasimira Ganeva joined in the fun on floor for the winners.
St. Charles co-op will have to wait until Thursday's Wheaton Warrenville South regional is complete to learn its fate. Its hope is to earn an at-large team berth, but there are a handful of teams vying for that opportunity, including Geneva.
"I like our chances and we got some good pointers from the judges on things we could fix going into sectionals," St. Charles co-op coach Tom Wirth said. "So we have 10 days now to get ready and we had a couple girls not compete tonight due to injuries who we should have back by sectionals."
For now St. Charles co-op knows that Emma Grace Redmond-Mattucci has advanced in the all-around by placing second with a 37.3. The highlight for the senior was her personal-best 9.6 on floor, which concluded the meet. She also won vault with a 9.275.
"It was my best score on floor," she said. "I think I had a 9.45 or 9.5 or something like that. I knew I hit it so no matter what score I got I was happy with my performance."
Wirth was quite impressed.
"That's the best routine she's ever done in her life," he said. "And this is one of the best meets she's ever had. She's had some good ones but usually has one event that's killed her. She's determined that this is her year and she isn't going to let anyone stand in her way."
Also advancing via top-five individual event finishes for St. Charles co-op were freshmen Sydney Kamin and Blakely Kresl on bars and beam, respectively, and senior Mychaela Guy on floor. Freshman Alivia Silvestri took fifth in the all-around with a 34.1 to also qualify for the sectional.
"They got all the kinks out," Redmond-Mattucci said. "I think they were nervous, which is natural for a freshman in any sport. I think the sectional will be a curveball for them, but I think we'll be able to put it together."
Willowbrook sophomore Karli Wilson had a pair of top-10 finishes on beam and floor to lead the Warriors. She also paced the team in the all-around with a 31.425, edging freshman teammate Alexis Fitzgerald's 30.975. Freshmen Maeve Costello and Abby Wrenn also competed as all-arounders for the Warriors. Eight of the regionals' 15 all-arounders were freshmen, and only Redmond-Mattucci and Leyden's Esther Aldana were seniors.