Stevenson, Borkan were giants
Editor's note: The Daily Herald is counting down the Top 10 boys and girls high school sports dynasties over the past 20 years, two at a time. We continue today at No. 7 with Stevenson girls gymnastics and Wheaton Warrenville South boys volleyball.
A 4-foot-11 giant led them.
Lindsay Borkan was never taller than when she dismounted. The Stevenson gymnast and IHSA great jutted her hands as high as they could go, angling her arms at a 60-degree angle, and smiled brightly. The "V" image was never intended to stand for victory. It just seemed apropos.
She turned in gigantic performances for a program that has been Goliath for most of this century. Borkan scored a perfect 10 on the uneven parallel bars during the 2003 North Suburban Conference meet as a junior and set the state all-around record (39.225) as a senior in successfully defending her title. Sixteen years later, Borkan's all-around record still stands.
Yet, when she and her Patriots teammates capped their "four-peat" at state in 2004, Borkan barely celebrated her own title. She was too focused on her team.
"I'm totally surprised because I didn't expect to win," Borkan, who went on to compete for Penn State, said on that February night at Palatine High School. "It's fun, but it's an individual thing. I just wanted to do well for the team."
What a team. What a program. Coach Judy Harwood coached the Patriots to state championships in 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004 -- and then again in 2009. Stevenson finished second at state in both 2008 and 2012.
Alyssa Weisberg won back-to-back state titles on beam (2013, 2014). Ali Castriano captured the state medal on beam in 2010.
Borkan won 6 individual state championships in three years (she didn't compete high school gymnastics her sophomore year), but she had plenty of help in leading the Patriots during their glory run. Michelle McGrady (Borkan's classmate) captured the state title on beam her senior year. Lori Ponsler, Kate Kuchel, Melissa Singer, Greta Thomas, Elisabeth Pawula, Margot Cornell, Nikki Rappin and Elizabeth White were key contributors during the early-2000s too.
The 2009 team had its own identity. Chelsie Seplowin, Castriano and Caitlin Pagano led the way. The senior Seplowin capped her great career for Stevenson by becoming the Patriots' first state champ on bars since Borkan five years earlier.
"This might be my favorite team of all-time," Harwood said of a group that also included seniors Shana Manning and Stephanie Wojton. "I really thought they deserved to win it. They're nice to each other and they do a lot of community service. It was a well-deserved honor."