Downers South, Fremd lead the way at Sopper Invite

 
By Michael Eaken
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 1/21/2017 6:30 PM
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  • Fremd's Sam Shirmer celebrates her vault performance during the Fremd girls gymnastics invitational in Palatine on Saturday.

      Fremd's Sam Shirmer celebrates her vault performance during the Fremd girls gymnastics invitational in Palatine on Saturday. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Naperville Central's Katie Petro dismounts from the balance beam during the Fremd girls gymnastics invitational in Palatine on Saturday.

      Naperville Central's Katie Petro dismounts from the balance beam during the Fremd girls gymnastics invitational in Palatine on Saturday. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Fremd's Courtney Ng competes on the uneven parallel bars during the Fremd girls gymnastics invitational in Palatine on Saturday.

      Fremd's Courtney Ng competes on the uneven parallel bars during the Fremd girls gymnastics invitational in Palatine on Saturday. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Glenbard West's Claire McGurk competes on the floor exercise during the Fremd girls gymnastics invitational in Palatine on Saturday.

      Glenbard West's Claire McGurk competes on the floor exercise during the Fremd girls gymnastics invitational in Palatine on Saturday. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Palatine's Abby Amato competes on the uneven parallel bars during the Fremd girls gymnastics invitational in Palatine on Saturday.

      Palatine's Abby Amato competes on the uneven parallel bars during the Fremd girls gymnastics invitational in Palatine on Saturday. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

Downers Grove South's Abby Carlson wanted to finish what she started.

And the Mustangs sophomore did so, after recovering from a nasty landing on her final pass during her floor exercise routine in the second rotation.

Carlson didn't miss a beat in her final two events, ending her day with a second-place finish in the all-around (37.25) in powering Downers Grove South to the team title at Fremd's Mari-Rae Sopper Invitational with season-high score of 144.95 in Palatine.

A surging Fremd team took second with 143.55 points, followed by Glenbard West (141.125) which was competing without defending state all-around champion Maddie Diab. Glenbrook North (139.875) and Palatine (139.80) rounded out the top five.

Carlson started her day with a third-place finish on beam (9.3), and despite an awkward landing on her arm in her final pass still managed to take third on floor (9.4).

After a brief pause, the Mustangs sophomore continued her with a solid vault (9.1) and capped her day with a second-place finish on bars (9.45).

"We were having such a good day and I just wanted to help keep the momentum going," said Carlson of her big comeback. "We're definitely peaking at the right time and we were able to put it all together today."

One of the pieces that has been missing for Downers South has been senior Kayla Carlson, Abby's sister. She'd missed the first part of the season due to injury but came back strong in her first all-around appearance by taking sixth place (35.525). Kayla Carlson added fifth-place finishes on vault (9.425) and floor (9.3). Andrea Davenport contributed with a sixth-place finish on floor (9.3) and a solid vault (9.25), while Lindsay Tom added a big routine on bars (9.125).

"We have definitely turned the corner since break," said Downers Grove South coach Kristyn Campos, whose team returned to state for the first time since 1983 last season. "With Kayla back in the mix, state is definitely a possibility."

Host Fremd is also on the upswing. After failing to break the 140 mark before the holiday break, the Vikings have come back with a vengeance. They've since bettered 140 in three consecutive meets and recorded their second-best score of the season on Saturday.

Freshman Sam Shirmir gave the Vikings an early jolt by winning vault (9.55) with a tsuk pike.

"I'm feeling really good," said Shirmir, who was slowed at the start of the season by a knee injury. "The whole team worked really hard today and brought it all together."

Fremd was a bit off on the bars, but the Vikings came back strong on beam and floor to end the day.

Junior Courtney Ng (9.35) took second on beam and got strong support from twin sister Melanie Ng (9.1, fourth) and junior Abby Moran (9.1, fifth). Moran kept things rolling on the floor, getting a second-place finish (9.55).

"We were not expecting this score at the beginning of the season," said Moran. "I think we are just very pleased with where we are right now and hoping to get better."

Courtney Ng had a fifth-place finish on bars (9.15) and Melanie Ng finished seventh in the all-around (35.5).

While Glenbard West was without Diab, the defending state champion on vault and beam, the Hilltoppers still showed nice depth on Saturday, especially on floor and vault.

Junior Kendall Rewerts (9.05), sophomore Katherine Hoban (9.05), and senior Alison Oakes (9.2) led the effort on floor exercise, with Hoban taking fourth on bars (9.2) and fifth in the all-around (35.85).

"We definitely want to show we're still legit even without Maddie," said Oakes. "I think we did our job today."

Glenbard West was a state qualifier last season and the Hilltoppers are looking to make a return trip this season.

"Relying on that experience from last season is going to be a big help this season," said Glenbard West coach Carlos Fuentes. "Today shows we have the depth that you need to make a run at the end."

Palatine managed a solid day despite a shaky beam performance. Senior Kara Ure gave the Pirates a big lift on the bars (9.35) with a third-place finish; she then helped the Pirates recover from beam with a solid floor routine (9.225).

"Definitely a solid bar routine," said Ure. "We've been really working hard and adding skills the last week."

Junior Abby Amato (9.25) and junior Callee Aikman (9.0) added to the Pirates' strong showing on floor.

"Some events were really shaky," said Amato, "but I think we really pulled it together on floor."

Glenbard North senior Erin Bregman was strong from start to finish, earning the all-around title (38.0) and powering her team to a sixth-place finish (136.05).

Bregman started her day by winning floor (9.7). She was fourth on vault (9.45), won bars (9.75) with an eye-catching performance and completed her day with a sixth-place finish on beam (9.1).

"It's one of my best meets," said Bregman. "I have just become more consistent since the beginning of the season."

Delaney Guy added a third-place finish for the Panthers on vault (9.5).

Junior Emma Grace Redmond-Mattucci (36.525) and Grace Levita (36.10) went 3-4 in the all-around in powering St. Charles Co-op to a seventh place finish with 135.90.

"I have been pretty consistent with my score this season," said Redmond-Mattuci, who highlighted her day with a fourth-place finish on floor (9.375).

Rose Fritz had a solid vault (9.20) and floor (9.175) in helping Naperville Central to a season-best score (130.05).

Alexandra Michalak took first on beam (9.40) in propelling Glenbrook North to a fourth-place finish.

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