Freshmen pave path to state meet

By Chris Walker
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 2/5/2018 11:34 PM
  • Neuqua Valley's Jane Riehs competes on the bars during the Hinsdale Central girls gymnastics regional on Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018.

      Neuqua Valley's Jane Riehs competes on the bars during the Hinsdale Central girls gymnastics regional on Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. Mark Black | Staff Photographer

You can add the sectional judges to the growing list of people within the gymnastics community who are impressed by what freshmen Jane Riehs and Kelsey Sumser have done in their first high school seasons.

Advancing to the state finals is the latest accomplishment for the two star gymnasts at Neuqua Valley and Naperville North as both qualified during Monday night's Sandburg sectional in Orland Park.

Riehs punched her ticket to Palatine in the all-around by placing third. She also qualified on bars, beam and the floor exercise by placing in the top five in each event, including a second-place finish on bars and third on the floor exercise.

"I was definitely nervous going into the meet, but I ended up doing better than I expected," Riehs said. "I was pretty happy. I had stopped doing club a year ago so I hadn't had that stress level in a while."

Riehs had the fortune of competing alongside some of her fellow Wildcats, including freshman Baylee Modaff, junior Olivia Nelson and senior Karina Hiltenbrand, although none of the three qualified for state. It was a happy ending, though, for Hiltenbrand, who was competing in her first sectional.

"Jane should also qualify on vault, so she'll likely be there on all four, but it'll be tough for any of the others to get there," Wildcats coach Katie Novorolsky said. "It was nice for (Karina) to be here with it being her senior year, and all four did really well for the most part. They hit the routines that they were capable of doing."

Sumser tied for fourth place on vault to extend her season onto the ultimate stage at state. Sophomore teammate Chloe Tsao was there as an all-arounder and two-event qualifier but did not qualify to state this year. She will give the Huskies an experienced 1-2 punch next winter.

Waubonsie Valley/Metea Valley co-op will be crossing its collective fingers and hoping that senior Melissa Martin's 9.15 on beam, which placed her sixth and just a spot away from an automatic berth to state, will be good enough for an at-large qualifier. Last year the cutoff was 9.0, but last year really means nothing now.

"We're hoping it's good enough to get her qualified and if it is she'll be the first one to go to state since I've been here, which would be awesome," Waubonsie Valley/Metea Valley co-op coach Phil Gilmer said. "So I told her to take tomorrow off because you earned it and I'll see you on Wednesday at practice because as far as I know your season is not over yet."

Junior Kaity Stocco and senior Jessica Houghton also represented the co-op on bars and beam respectively.

Naperville Central senior Katie Petro and juniors Rose Fritz and Lexi Swanson represented the Redhawks at the sectional but none of them scored high enough to advance.

In the team competition Lincoln-Way co-op won with a 143.275 to automatically advance to state for the second consecutive year.

Downers Grove North, one of just two teams to improve its score from the regionals, was runner-up with a 137.575 and followed by Hinsdale Central's 136.55, but the Red Devils saw their score drop by more than 6 points. Junior Brooke Stocki paced the Trojans by winning bars.

Downers Grove South placed fifth with a 136.025 but received an excellent performance from junior Abby Carlson who tied Sandburg/Stagg co-op's Maddie Giglio with a 37.0 for the all-around title. Carlson also won the floor exercise outright.

The at-large berths won't be determined until the final three sectionals are completed, which includes the final one at Lake Park on Thursday.

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