Lake Park keeps DuKane streak going

By Bill Stone
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 1/29/2022 11:10 AM

Lake Park senior gymnast Paula Naronowicz finished second on floor exercise at the DuKane Conference Meet for the third straight year Friday.

Naronowicz also was atop the podium for the third straight year for what matters most to her -- another team conference title.


Although Wheaton co-op edged Lake Park 140.975 to 140.35 for the meet title in a tight three-team battle with Geneva's 140.15, the Lancers captured the overall DKC title by virtue of dual-meet results.

"I feel like keeping the legacy going, that's a really good thing to leave the seniors off with and also the incoming freshmen showing this is who we are and this is what we can do," Naronowicz said.

"We could have improvements but I think we had one of our better meets with consistency. Regardless of second place or not (tonight), I think we improved overall as a team, not scorewise necessarily but consistency."

Wheaton co-op and Lake Park tied overall because the Lancers had won the DKC dual portion at 5-0 with Wheaton co-op second at 4-1.

The Lancers owned the overall tiebreaker of having the higher average among their second, third and fourth-highest DKC dual scores. They only needed to finish at least second to win the overall crown Friday.

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"Three in a row is great. We love it," Lake Park coach Jake Luketin said. "Of course, it's not necessarily the way we want to win but I think it shows the girls what they need to work on and some direction going forward."

Wheaton co-op also swept all of the individual titles. Sophomore Haylie Hinckley won all-around (36.45), vault (9.5), uneven parallel bars (9.15) and floor (9.425) and senior Maleah Crowley captured balance beam (9.375). Wheaton co-op and Lake Park meet at the Lake Park Regional Tuesday.

"We tried to celebrate (winning Friday) and still not to take anything away from Lake Park. Celebrate what we did but also give credit where credit's due," Wheaton co-op coach Maureen Kermend said. "The biggest win for us was feeling strong going into our regional. That's what our goal was because we knew Lake Park was going to win the conference (overall title)."

The Lancers also excelled individually. Julia Bartok (9.1 on beam) and Cali Keefe (9.025 on uneven bars) joined Naronowicz in second-place finishes.

Naronowicz also was third in all-around (35.95) and vault (9.275) and sixth on beam (8.975). Adding to the Lancers' top-five medal finishes, senior Anna Jung was fourth on floor (9.225) and uneven bars (8.9). Keefe also shared fifth on vault (8.825) and was sixth in all-around (35.45).


The previous two years, Naronowicz finished second on floor to Lake Park senior teammates. These are the first top-five conference medals for Jung, who has worked her way up from the junior varsity as a freshman.

"After three years of watching and cheering for everybody else, I love everyone, it really was nice that all of the hard work I put in for four years finally paid off," Jung said.

"It was really nervous excitement because we wanted to defend the championship, but I think it all helped us come together."

Hinckley and Crowley have been huge additions as first-year high school gymnasts. Senior Ashley Huang also was third on floor (9.3), fourth in all-around (35.75) and tied for fifth on uneven bars (8.875).

"I was really proud of everyone. I really didn't expect (the victories) especially because of beam because my beam's a little off but it was good to win," Hinckley said.

"(Beam) felt really good," Crowley said. "I was afraid of doing my last skill (on beam) just because I didn't want to fall after such a good routine but then I remembered everything I was training."

Geneva also did great, just missing its season high of 140.30.

Geneva sophomore Brooke Lussnig was second in all-around (36.30) and vault (9.375), fourth on beam (9.05) and sixth on floor (9.075).

Sophomore Graci Weems was fourth on vault (9.1) and fifth on floor (9.175). Senior Kate Nitschke shared fifth on uneven bars (8.875).

"Last year I did a tuck Yurchenko and now I'm doing a pike," Lussnig said. "I was really happy to hit that beam routine because I felt a lot of pressure going last (for the team) and I knew I had to do it for the team so we could have a great meet."

St. Charles co-op (131.30), Batavia (129.55) and Glenbard North (125.55) finished fourth through sixth.

Batavia junior Grace Cooper finished fifth on beam (9.0) in her first meet since suffering a stress fracture in her left knee during warmups for the Oswego Invite Dec. 29.

Cooper, who also competed on uneven bars, was medically cleared Wednesday and hasn't given up hope of being an all-arounder by Tuesday's regional.

"I normally do pretty well on beam but with these (state-level) judges I'm pretty surprised I got a 9," Cooper said.

"That was awesome. I've never felt that confident on beam before. Honestly, right at the last second I'm like, 'I'm going to add a full at the end of my beam routine to top it off.' I felt really good."

Glenbard North junior Brooklyn McQuillan shared second on beam (9.1) and was third on uneven bars (8.925) en route to fifth in all-around (35.475). She also shared fifth on vault (8.825) even with issues landing her Yurchenko.

"Not my best, but I'm happy with my start (bars) and my finish (beam) at least," McQuillan said. "Beam was probably my best routine this season. I've been working really hard just cleaning up the little minor wobbles."

St. Charles co-op continued its recent ascent in the 130s. Freshman all-arounder Rachel Nicastro had its highest score with a 9.05 on floor, which shared seventh.

"I like floor. It's usually the best," Nicastro said

"I think that I've been progressing over the year and this showed it off. The team (also) all came together."

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