Neuqua Valley's Riehs dives back into gymnastics
Jane Riehs acknowledged that she hadn't really done much gymnastics after taking second in state on beam in February.
In her first competition since then -- and in 288 days for that matter -- Riehs won the all-around and also had the top score on floor and vault to lead Neuqua Valley to a 132.9 to 127.65 victory over Waubonsie Valley/Metea Valley co-op in DuPage Valley Conference action on Thursday in Naperville.
"I hadn't done any gymnastics since June and now I've only been back here for two weeks so I was a little rough," Riehs said. "I started diving in the summer and ended up going to state, which was a lot of fun, so I didn't have time for gymnastics."
Fellow sophomore Baylee Modaff has been training year-round and followed Riehs with a 33.25, which was highlighted by her 8.45 on beam, second only to senior teammate Olivia Nelson's 9.15.
"I spent all summer working on getting higher skills, but I haven't put them in yet, but I'm going to get there," Modaff said. "I think I did OK today. I'm going to try to progress and keep getting better so I'm ready for regionals."
Freshmen Susan Jones and Amelia Wachtel also contributed for the Wildcats. Wachtel provided key scores on three events, while Jones scored a 30.4 in the all-around and boosted the team score with her 8.15 on vault.
"Starting at home is nice and we can kind of ease into the season a little bit," Neuqua Valley coach Katie Novorolsky said. "We did better than I expected and we had a lot of falls, so it's a good starting point."
The Wildcats are young and talented, and their team makeup is also unique with veterans like Imani Porter and Nelson, talented underclassmen with club backgrounds coming off strong debuts last year in Modaff and Riehs, newbies like Jones and Wachtel and even some girls who are entirely new to the sport.
"We've got a couple standouts on varsity who we know are going to do well and we've got a few girls who have never done gymnastics period," Novorolsky said. "So getting them going is a challenge in itself. But they're all working hard and we've got a really good group."
Junior Thera Bowen edged her sister Thalia Bowen, 33.0 to 32.05 to lead Waubonsie Valley/Metea Valley co-op in the all-around. Senior Kaity Stocco added a 31.3.
The Valley co-op had already competed this year, but that was 14 days ago.
"Kaity Stocco on beam and Thera Bowen on vault with her tuck tsuk were really nice," Valley co-op coach Phillip Gilmer said. "Kaity was having a kind of tough night so for her to come up to beam and knock it out like that was awesome to see and she did a nice job on floor too."
Destiny Carter, a junior who is new to the squad this winter, also was impressive, winning bars with an 8.2.
"They went from a 126.1 to 127.65 so that's a 1.5-point increase in two weeks," Gilmer said. "Their goal is to break 130 by winter break and with their fantastic work ethic of constantly pushing each other in the gym, they can do it. That will make me very happy."
Thera Bowen is enjoying select company in the 9s on vault these days. It's a place she hadn't been prior to this season.
"Last meet was my first time ever getting a 9 on vault so whenever I see a 9, I'm like 'Wow,'" she said. "It's really cool to get one, because it means I must actually be that good to get one."
She wasn't bragging about it either. Not even with Thalia. Perhaps she'll save that fun for at home.
"We're close in scoring anyway and once she starts hitting her vaults it'll be really, really close," Thera Bowen said. "And I'm a little jealous anyway because she's doing toe shoots now on bars and I'm weak on them so we have a little competition like that."