The Prairie Ridge co-op girls gymnastics team entered the Hoffman Estates sectional on a pretty big roll.
The three-time defending state champions had scored a state-best 151.30 at the Hersey regional, and it was going to take something special to knock them off.
Well, Maine South and junior Caleigh Pistorius were certainly special.
Pistorius took first in the all-around (37.65), helping Maine South edge Prairie Ridge 147.425-147.325 and giving the Hawks their first sectional title.
Fremd took third with 142.15 points, followed by Conant (141.60), Palatine (138.475), and Barrington (137.775).
Maine South came from behind on the final two events, scoring a meet high on both vault (37.725) and bars (37.275) to secure the victory.
"The girls did an awesome job tonight," said Maine South coach Tessa Robinson. "Those were our two highest-scoring events, and it was an awesome ending to the meet."
Pistorius started the night with a fall on beam but was clean in her final three events. The junior took first on both the vault (9.65) and bars (9.525). She also added fourth-place finishes on beam (9.225) and floor (9.25).
"All season long we've been working so hard on the bars and it came together tonight," said Pistorius. "I'm super happy and I couldn't be prouder of my team … we put everything we had out there tonight."
Prairie Ridge was not too far behind, with Kira Karlblom (37.225) and junior Clancy Raupp (36.925) going 2-3 in the all-around.
"They'll rebound," said Prairie Ridge coach Lee Battaglia. "We'll go back to the gym and regroup and clean up what we need to."
Karlblom tied for first on the floor (9.3), took second on vault (9.5) and tied for third on bars (9.4). Raupp added a third-place finish on beam (9.475).
"Today was definitely a rough night for us," said Karlbrom of a Prairie Ridge attack that featured a few uncharacteristic falls. "But if we keep hitting our routines in practice, we should be back to where we need to be at state. It'll definitely motivate us."
Junior Ciara Ryan added a third-place finish on vault (9.45), while senior Katarina Schaffer tied for fifth on floor (9.2) in supporting the Wolves' effort.
Maine South joins Glenbrook South and Lincoln Way co-op as automatic team qualifiers and will advance to the girls gymnastic state meet Feb. 16-17 at Palatine High School.
Prairie Ridge co-op holds the top at-large mark, with the top four non-automatic qualifiers also advancing. Fremd has a tentative hold on the fourth and final at-large bid, with the Lake Park sectional still remaining Thursday evening.
"We're a little disappointed right now," said Fremd coach Kasey Kronforst, whose team was a bit behind the score it achieved at the regional. "Sometimes it's just not your night."
Senior Abby Moran and senior Melanie Ng led the Vikings' effort.
Moran was definitely in her comfort zone in taking first on the beam (9.575); she ended her night by adding a third-place finish on floor (9.275).
"I actually have never felt more comfortable with my routines," said Moran on clutch performance. "I just feel like I'm really ready for state."
Ng also provided a jolt by taking third on the beam (9.25) and adding a fifth-place finish on bars (9.375).
"I just wanted to give it my all and do my best," said Ng.
Hersey senior Mackenzie Kamysz also looked smooth in tying for first on the floor (9.3). It will mark the fourth consecutive trip to state for the Huskies senior.
"It's a really big deal," said Kamysz of her state drive. "I was so nervous, it just means a lot, qualifying once more, my senior year."
Rolling Meadows sophomore Nicole Kane also had a clutch performance in taking second on bars (9.425) after returning from an early season injury.
"It was such a rough journey getting to this point," said Kane, who did not return to action until late January. "I didn't know how it was going to go, but it ended it pretty good."
Schaumburg senior Mikayla Vogt also punched her ticket to state by tying for fifth on the floor (9.2). She'd qualified to the state meet as a freshman but missed the mark the past two seasons.
"It feels so good after all these years of hard work," said Vogt. "Floor has been my strong event, so I just wanted to go out there and give it my all."
Conant sophomore Kennedy O'Connor and Barrington sophomore Lauren Tenbrunsel also secured state spots as they tied for fifth on the beam (9.175).