Stevenson wins NSC crown
A year ago, Caitlin Pagano suffered a devastating fall on the bars in warm-ups right before the North Suburban Conference meet, which was being held at Stevenson.
Pagano had dislocated her elbow, forcing her to miss the meet, the state series and necessitating a couple of surgeries in the off-season.
On Friday night, a year later, she returned to the meet where the injury occurred and went right back on the bars in warm ups without hesitation.
"I had thought a lot about it during the day," Pagano said. "It hit me when I was warming up. I looked at the bars and I remembered it. I just tried to forget about it and focus on what I was doing.
"(Coach) Harwood was telling me 'If you're going to fall, then you know how to fall.' I was like, 'I shouldn't worry about.' "
Pagano made it through warm-ups with no problems this time, and then made it count in the meet. She earned top honors with a 9.55 in the meet.
Success for Pagano helped Stevenson to another NSC title, this one at Vernon Hills. The Patriots finished at 149.5, ahead of Lake Forest (146.925) and Libertyville (143.325).
"The girls are doing great and I do like how they are working," Stevenson coach Judy Harwood said. "We have confidence that we can hit our routines because we do them every day in practice over and over and over."
The Patriots' Ali Castriano sure had a lot of confidence. She hit a Yurchenko layout, and received a career-best 9.9 and on her way to winning the event.
"I've never done that in any event," said Pagano, who had a 9.7 at state last year. "All week, I had trouble with it in practice. I was just focusing on my power and trying to land it."
Castriano also won the all-around (38.25), along with taking first on floor (9.6) and tying for second on bars with Lake Forest's Kylie Carlson (9.4).
The Patriots' Theresa Wojton placed second in the all-around (37.4), took first on beam (9.6) and second on floor (9.45). Carlie Dobkin tied for fourth on bars with Vernon Hills' Alli Tran (9.35) and Pagano finished fifth on beam (9.4).
Tran has been one of the Cougars' steadily improving gymnasts and had one of her best routines on the bars.
"It was one of better ones, because I stuck my dismount, a double-back," said Tran, a sophomore. "Right now, I'm trying to stay consistent."
Libertyville's Laura Herchenbach placed fourth in the all-around. She tied for third on vault with Grace Kohlmaier of Lake Forest (9.5) and took third on floor (9.4). Teammate Jenna Dunsing finished in a third-place tie with Mundelein's Lisa Wajswol on the beam (9.45).
"It's the best I've done in an invite," said Dunsing, who had a 9.5 in a dual earlier this season. "I've been working on new skills this past week in practice and things worked out."
The Mustangs' Wajswol also placed fifth in the all-around (37) and fifth on floor (9.3).