The Carmel Catholic girls gymnastic team made a trip to state last year and finished in fourth place.
The challenge for this year's team was replacing many of the seniors responsible for that success.
All through this season, the Corsairs have competed with a much younger group, and a smaller team overall. But it still doesn't change what they've accomplished to this point.
"It feels a little different without the seniors," said Izzy Kropiwiec, a sophomore and was with the team last year. " I think this year, it's hard to come from a small team. but we're all so into it. All of us don't have that doubt, and we're in it as a team. That's what makes us a good team."
And after its performance Tuesday, another state trip is far from out of the question.
Carmel has its sights set on visiting Palatine High School for next week's state championship meet after posting an impressive 145.6 score at the Niles North sectional in Skokie.
The Corsairs currently have the second-best at-large score of the four that will eventually advance. There are still two sectionals remaining -- at Hoffman Estates (Wednesday) and Lake Park (Thursday) -- to decide the full eight-team field.
Glenbrook South won the sectional by a narrow margin, taking the top spot with 146.225. Lincoln-Way co-op advanced Monday by winning the Sandburg sectional with a score of 143.275.
At Niles North, New Trier was a close second to Glenbrook South with 146.15 and holds the top at-large spot. Deerfield placed fourth (141.575), with Glenbrook North fifth (140.8) and Stevenson sixth (139.35).
"Knowing how strong Glenbrook South and New Trier were going to be," Carmel coach Sarah Mikrut Doyle said, "we were going for a score. I'm so super proud of what they did after having some bumps in the road at regionals, then coming back and performing super well. We did have strong performances from everyone. I hope we get a chance to be at state -- we will see."
The Corsairs' strongest part of the meet was vault (37225) and beam (35.775), bptj pf which showed big gains from the regional.
"Vault for us was awesome," Mikrut Doyle added. "Whether or not we se scored our highest, they did their biggest vaults. To start on beam and get through and have four of them stay on ... I think as a coach, I learned a lot about what changes we need to make for us to come next week."
Kropiwiec placed fifth in the all-around with a 36.625. She also was fourth on vault (9.45) and tied for fifth on uneven bars with Glenbrook South's Sheena Graham, Jenna Hartley and Deerfield's Sam Edelstein (9.325).
"My heart was racing more (in the sectional)," Kropiwiec said. "You just have to get those nerves out and take a deep breath before you go. Going in and hitting all of my stuff was so amazing. It shows all of my hard work in the gym."
The Corsairs' Lyndsey Basara landed fifth on the vault (9.375) and tied for fifth on floor with Orly Hirsch of Deerfield (9.225). Kelly Gustafson also advanced with a third-place tie on beam with Sheena Graham of Glenbrook South 9.325.
Mundelein's Amanda Muench qualified in the second spot on beam (9.35) behind New Trier's Maeve Murdock and her top score of 9.55. It will be the first trip to state for Muench, a sophomore.
"It just was really solid, and I felt very confident up there," Muench said. "It was a lot of pressure, but being with my teammates helped a lot. I was just shaking off the pressure and nerves. You get one shot for state -- you get that one routine and you don't get any other chances."
Darcy Barkel of New Trier posted the top bars score (9.45). Hartley landed first on vault (9.8) and was also first on floor (9.35), ahead of Lake Forest's Kristen Fisch (9.3).
Graham was the top all-arounder (37.225) and Hartley was the runner-up (37.15).