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updated: 2/1/2018 10:58 PM

Wheaton Warrenville co-op, Lake Park switch places

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By Chris Walker
Daily Herald Correspondent

Wheaton Warrenville co-op is dead serious about focusing on one thing at a time.

Realizing that they can't control how their opponents do and obeying coach Maureen Kermend's orders to not look at scores, the team is performing its best at the right time.

During Thursday's Wheaton Warrenville South regional, the co-op avenged a tough defeat to Lake Park in the final DuPage Valley Conference meet by posting a season-high 145.875. Lake Park dropped a bit to a 143.025 as the runner-up.

U-46 co-op was third with a 119.825, and Glenbard South took fourth with a 110.75.

"They're just focusing on doing their best and what they can control," Kermend said. "You can't forget that they're kids and kids have different days all the time. It's a great group and what really makes them special is they're so generous and really caring."

They're also awfully talented gymnasts, and they were even sharper than they were last Friday.

"We hit bars about the same," Kermend said. "We hit all of our routines, but we still had little mistakes but we didn't take any falls. That was really the difference. We stayed on the equipment. We didn't have a lot of mistakes at the DVC but at the same time, Lake Park had such a phenomenal meet."

The Lancers weren't as clean on Thursday, but they also understood that the key was to ensure they advanced to next week's Lake Park sectional.

"The girls didn't have their best meet, and our focus was to come in and have a good meet and feel good about our next level of things," Lancers coach Jake Luketin said. "We told the girls before the meet that this was just practice for the sectional and (Wheaton co-op) get to come to our house now, so it should be fun and tight competition."

Glenbard West is the team favorite at the sectional. DeKalb/Sycamore co-op, Wheaton co-op and Lake Park are expected to battle for runner-up or top honors if the Hilltoppers have a colossal slip-up.

Wheaton co-op sophomore Jamie LaBue was terrific, winning all four events and the all-around while averaging a 9.4688. Junior teammate Macy Smykal was third in the all-around. Smykal also was second on vault and floor and fifth on beam.

"Lately in practice we've been focusing on each other individually and how we're progressing instead of our score and other teams," LaBue said. "Getting our highest score of the season, I'm really proud of our whole team. We were cheering each other on the whole time."

That included Maura Clark, who tied fellow sophomore Bridget Kennedy for fourth place on bars, junior Jackie Kerth, who was second on bars, and freshman Emily Burnham, who took fifth on floor. Clark also placed fifth on vault.

Senior Kelly Zehnder took second in the all-around to lead Lake Park. She also took third on bars and floor and fourth on beam. Freshman Racquel Suhr had two strong finishes, placing second on beam and fourth on floor, while sophomore Maggie Koch was third on vault and Julia Kurek was third on beam.

Montini senior Michelle Glover captured the fifth and final all-around qualifying spot as the lone competitor for the Broncos.

Sophomore Gianna Murkowski paced U-46 co-op by taking ninth place in the all-around.

Glenbard South didn't have any all-arounders, but coach Lee Wood had 14 gymnasts compete, including five seniors for the final time.

"It was a good meet and the girls finished up the season great," Wood said. "I had some seniors compete some different events tonight so they could finish their last meet, including Emma Johnson. She's a senior and a first-year gymnast who did bars for the first time tonight."

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