Sweet regional triumph for Carmel
It was 25 years ago that Carmel Catholic celebrated its first state championship, and it was in girls gymnastics.
Thursday night, the Corsairs hosted their first regional since 2010. Many former gymnasts made their way back to where it all began and were greeted with a room full of pictures, medals, plaques and trophies.
The 2016-17 Corsairs then won more hardware, as they captured their 16th regional title in a row. Carmel's 148.05 was well ahead of runner-up Stevenson (133.05). Niles North (131.75) and Wheeling (120.625) were third and fourth, respectively.
"It was packed full of energy," Carmel coach Nicole Stroup said. "The gym was so exciting to be in. We had so many student fans that came out to support. They've been so excited about this all year. It's good to be back home after even years and get to compete here in our home gym and have a home crowd."
Sam Lococo performed a regional-best score on floor exercise with a dazzling 9.7. She also won the all-around (37.4), was second on vault (9.475) and bars (9.175), and finished third on beam (9.05).
"It just felt really good when I was out on the floor," Lococo said. "I had the team behind me and we started out so well. We had a home meet and the student section came out. We just put out so much effort in this meet. It just felt really good to show it off (on floor)."
Carmel's Anna Osowski (36.65) and Kelly Gustafson (36.05) placed second and third in the all-around. Gustafson was third on vault (9.2) and Osowski tied for fourth with Niles North's Kaylie VanDoren (8.925). Isabella Kropiwiec of the Corsairs took the top spots on vault (9.5) and bars (9.5). Osowski was third (9.15) followed by Samantha Wahlers (8.9) and Gustafson (8.7).
Wahlers took first on beam (9.35), Osowski was second (9.25), Alyssa Legarreta finished fourth (9.0) and Gustafson placed fifth (8.9). On floor, Osowski was second (9.325), followed by Kropiwiec (9.3) and Gustafson (9.25).
"I think the girls have really picked things up," Stroup said. "They've started to figure out the little things to work through this year. They're starting to look real good. They are starting to believe in themselves."
Zoe Hinz of Stevenson qualified fifth in the all-around (34.225) and fifth on floor (9.2). She could qualify in a couple other events at-large. Her teammates Riley Poletsak and Emily Weinstein each have a shot at making it at-large.
Wheeling's Jessica Stavros missed qualifying by a couple of spots, but she has a chance of reaching the sectional at-large in the all-around, vault and beam.
Carmel joins New Trier, Glenbrook South and Mundelein as teams that won regionals. Deerfield and Niles West advanced at-large to next Monday's Stevenson sectional.