Girls gymnastics: Scouting the Fox Valley

By Chris Walker
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 12/4/2017 9:42 AM
  • St. Charles' Emma Grace Redmond-Mattucci returns for her senior season on the St. Charles co-op girls gymnastics team.

      St. Charles' Emma Grace Redmond-Mattucci returns for her senior season on the St. Charles co-op girls gymnastics team. Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • St. Charles' Mychaela Guy returns for her senior season on the St. Charles co-op girls gymnastics team.

      St. Charles' Mychaela Guy returns for her senior season on the St. Charles co-op girls gymnastics team. Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • Prairie Ridge's Kira Karlblom returns for her junior season on the Wolves' co-op girls gymnastics team.

      Prairie Ridge's Kira Karlblom returns for her junior season on the Wolves' co-op girls gymnastics team. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer


Coach: Taryn Boyce (14th year)

Top returnees: Lillian Baty-Barr (Jr, beam, floor, vault), Olivia Bartolotta (so., beam, floor, vault), Jessica Nena (Jr, all-around), Taylor Novotny (so., all-around)

Outlook: Depth, plenty of young, new talent, and experienced talent that's also relatively young has the Bulldogs poised for a fun and competitive season. "Now having 18 team members our team is young, but we have great depth and exciting new talent," Batavia coach Taryn Boyce said. The Bulldogs lost Cameron Hindel to graduation, but last year was much of a rebuilding one anyway, with Olivia Bartolotta and Taylor Novotny making their high school debuts and Lillian Baty-Barr and Jessica Nena only in their sophomore seasons. All four of those gymnasts return. Now with them back, they'll look to lead the way while Kaityln Spears and Kaitlyn Wesender join the team as freshmen and will look to contribute immediately. "As returning members (who were freshmen themselves last year), Olivia and Taylor have a lot to offer in regards to preparing our incoming freshmen for the season," Boyce said. "As many of our freshmen are coming in from competitive club backgrounds, Olivia and Taylor have been and will continue to be a strong resource during their transition to high school gymnastics." Additionally, having Meggan Hagemann as an assistant coach will be extremely helpful. Hagemann graduated from Batavia just five years ago.


Coach: Kim Hostman (18th year)

Top returnees: Lily Chapman (sr., all-around), Grace DeVita (Jr, all-around), Holly Friedel (sr., all-around), Kelly Frank (sr., all-around), Bailey Pihera (sr., all-around)

Outlook: You can comb through the Geneva roster for as long as you like, but for the first time in 12 years you won't find a Ginsberg. The three sisters contributed so much to the program, especially Claire Rose Ginsberg who graduated in the spring. An all-around state champion as a freshman and holder of nine Top 5 medals at state, Claire Rose's contributions will be sorely missed. Fortunately for the Vikings, many of her teammates who have shared in past glory, including a solid group of seniors such as Lily Chapman, Grace DeVita, Holly Friedel, Kelly Frank and Bailey Pihera, as well as juniors Grace De Vita and Linsday King, return. The past two postseasons have been rough for the Vikings, but it was just 2015 when they took second in the state and capped a three-year run of state appearances. "What I like about this team is they are very strong as a group," Vikings coach Kim Hostman said. "They are productive at every practice and are talented, strong gymnasts." Hostman believes that the group's determination and dedication toward excellence, combined with increased skill level as the season progresses, could have the team in the running for a deep postseason run. Look for freshmen Kathryn Wendt and Olivia Takesue, as well as senior Emma Lieberman, a move-in from out of state, to contribute as well.

Prairie Ridge co-op

Coach: Lee Battaglia (19h year)

Top returnees: Kira Karlblom (Jr, all-around), Maddie Kim (Jr, all-around), Clancy Raupp (Jr, all-around), Katarina Schaffer (sr., beam, floor)

Outlook: Winning back-to-back-to-back-to-back state championships isn't easy, but it's something that has surprisingly been accomplished three times since the state finals began in 1976-77. Addison Trail, Fremd and Stevenson have all won four consecutive state championships and Fremd actually won the most in row, taking home six straight titles from 1994-99. Now, Prairie Ridge has an opportunity to try to accomplish the same feat. Coach Lee Battaglia said it's "too early to tell" what his team can accomplish but with all-arounders Kira Karlblom, Maddie Kim and Clancy Raupp returning, as well as senior specialist Katarina Schaffer, the team should once again be one of the elite ones in the state, although young. Schaffer is the team's lone senior. Overcoming the loss of Alyssa Petko and especially Nikki Baars will be difficult, so they'll need to fill in some scores. Juniors Ciara Ryan and Macey Woodlock and sophomore Katie McEnery are some of a handful of gymnasts who will look to add to the team score. Once again, Prairie Ridge will work on preparing for the state series with a light competitive schedule. They will only compete twice in December and six times overall in the regular season, appearing in five invitationals and a single dual meet.

St. Charles co-op

Coach: Tom Wirth (1st year)

Top returnees: Mychaela Guy (sr., vault, floor), Emma Grace Redmond-Mattucci (sr., all-around), Grace Levita (sr., all-around)

Outlook: Tom Wirth takes over head coaching duties after assisting Amy Wojdelko, who stepped down after having a baby in August. Don't be surprised if Wojdelko gets out on occasion to see this team compete as it returns a great deal of talent and welcomes some young gifted athletes as well. "It's a very solid class of freshmen," Wirth said. "I will have some tough decisions to make as far as lineups are concerned because Alivia (Silvestri), Blakely (Kresl), Izzy (DesRoches) and Sydney (Kamin) will all be 35-plus all-arounders and Alivia and Blakely could be low 36s even." Mix in that potential with senior all-arounders Emma Grace Redmond-Mattucci and Grace Levita, and specialist Mychaela Guy, and you have a team that could put up some huge scores. Freshman Maddie Kramer and sophomore Ashley Olea also will contribute. "We definitely have the talent and depth to make a run at qualifying to state as a team this season," Wirth said. "We have a nice mix of experienced veterans and newcomers which should make for a very exciting season." The co-op has made three state appearances in the last 10 years, including a sixth-place finish in 2014. The program's best finish came before becoming a co-op as St. Charles East placed second in 1998.

U-46 co-op

Coach: Jessica Stoye (1st year)

Top returnees: Alyssa Bucaro (Jr, beam, floor, vault), Gianna Murkowski (so., all-around), Taegan Vinarsky (sr., all-around)

Outlook: This co-op, which is comprised of gymnasts from Bartlett, Elgin, Larkin, South Elgin and Streamwood, graduated most of the gymnasts, including standout Ashley McKee, who were in its varsity lineup last winter. Taegan Vinarsky is the only regular who returns although specialist Alyssa Bucaro was quite valuable and Gianna Murkowski was a top JV competitor, taking second in the all-around in last season's Upstate Eight Conference meet. The team also has a new coach in Jessica Stoye who is still trying to figure her team out as she was hired right as the season was starting. "The former coach (Tim Whelan) was able to help me figure some things out with how he ran the varsity and JV and who specialized in what," Stoye said. "Right now it looks like Taegan (Vinarsky), Lauren (Byrne), Frances (Kuzyk), Gianna (Murkowski), Alyssa (Bucaro) and Anjali (Patel) are going to be our varsity girls." All but Bucaro and Patel are capable of competing as all-arounders with Bucaro focusing on three events and Patel on beam. Stoye brings a great deal of experience into the gym. She competed for 13 years before retiring from the competition aspect of the sport due to injuries. She's been in and out of coaching since then and is now excited for her latest challenge. "There's still a lot to figure out," she said. "But I'm looking forward to it."

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