Girls gymnastics: Warren surges past Lincoln-Way co-op at Conant Invitational

There was a big turnout for the 44th Conant Invitational Saturday in Hoffman Estates as 10 teams vied for the championship of this powerful early-season meet.

Trailing the top teams in the meet for pretty much the entire day, it was quite a shocker for most people when the final tabulations were made as Warren made a late surge to capture the team title by a 140.425 to 139.1 score over runner-up Lincoln-Way Co-op.

Wheaton co-op edged Carmel 137.975 to 137.675 for the third-place trophy followed by Lake Zurich (134.55) in fifth, the host Cougars (133.1) in sixth, Geneva (133.025) in seventh, and Lake Park (130.95) in eighth.

Wheaton senior Haylie Hinckley easily rolled to the all-around crown with a personal-high 38.05 points (9.51 average) while Lake Zurich junior Mia McHugh (36.2 points) took runner-up honors with a 9.05 average.

Warren's season-high score was put together by a great team effort, including its top all-arounder Camryn Clark (seventh overall) with an 8.64 average (34.55 points).

"There's a lot of great teams here, coming in and learning from meets in the past where we struggled a little bit they pulled it together in the last two events when it counted," said Warren coach Mary Kovac. "They rose to the challenge so it was exciting. We've been struggling with consistency on floor and vault and they hit both of those events."

Geneva's Reese Lackey (35.25) placed fourth in the all-around to nip Lake Zurich's Gianna Mirabella (35.20) in fifth, Geneva's Brooke Lussnig (34.725) in sixth, Carmel's Julia Bukowski (34.25) in eighth, and Conant's Ally Zhelyazkov (34.05) in ninth).

"We're down two girls today, but I thought they came in with a very positive attitude," said Wheaton coach Maureen Kermend. "We have some skills that we would like to add that we haven't started competing yet so we're looking forward to that."

Hinckley won vault (9.65), uneven bars (9.6), and balance beam (9.45) while Carmel's Ava Fendel (9.4) took first place on floor. Wheaton's Mia LaFratta (9.3) placed second on uneven bars.

"I was in quite a bit of pain in my shin so I was kind of worried about that, but I made it through so that was good and I was happy about my performance on floor and vault," Hinckley said. "Balance beam is one of my struggles so I was very happy with that too. As a team we did very well, I'm very proud of everyone, and a lot of girls stepped up."

Other key all-arounders were Lake Zurich's Emily Hills (10th), Schaumburg's Vanessa DiVincenzo (11th), Carmel's Maria Bukowski (12th), Conant's Marissa Shulman (13th), and Wheaton's Marlee Larson (14th).

"That was a decent score for us because our top all-arounder (Alyssah Arends) only did one event," said Carmel coach Sarah Mikrut Doyle, a key member of Corsairs' state title teams in 1992 and 1993. "To see some of our typically JV girls step up and do such a beautiful job I'm really proud of them. I loved being able to give them an opportunity to showcase their talent on the varsity level and they handled it really well."

Lake Zurich's squad was also short-handed for the meet.

"One of our gymnasts was taking the ACT today and four of our varsity members were out today," said Lake Zurich coach Chelsie Groteleuschen. "The beginning of the season is to keep everybody healthy, and my main focus is the second half of the year."

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