Donovan, Glenbard East hang close to Glenbard West
Kelsey Donovan fell the last time she competed in the floor exercise.
During Saturday's Naperville North Invitational, the Glenbard East junior put on quite the show, winning the event.
It was the biggest highlight for the Rams, and they had plenty, although they just fell short against champion Glenbard West, which edged them, 143.575 to 142.025. It was a two-team battle; third-place Hinsdale Central was more than 8 points behind the Rams with a 133.75.
"Since I fell the last time I was just focusing on hitting," she said. "That was my goal. And it really felt so good because I haven't really won anything since I became a high school gymnast, which is weird, because it's always been my strongest event. It really felt awesome."
Donovan's miscue at the District 87 meet on Dec. 27 may have slightly registered in her head late during her performance on Saturday.
"I just take it a pass at time so when I start my routine I'm only focused on my double full and not thinking about the second or third pass," she said. "But once I got to my third pass I got a little nervous and told myself that I know what to do and to just finish it. And that's what I did. It's fun. I like floor because you get to perform."
The Hilltoppers performed just a bit better than the Rams to win the invitational, despite not going at full strength. Rather, they showed off their depth as coach Carlos Fuentes used 10 gymnasts.
"We tinkered with the lineup and put 10 athletes in," he said. "With seven seniors I want to give them a chance to compete and I wanted to sprinkle in the freshmen because they will be up next year and we can't just keep sending them out to win JV invites. And Alina (Bhagwakar) did a nice job. She sat for three hours and then was ready to go with two vaults."
Bhagwakar scored a 9.125 on vault to help the Hilltoppers take home the title. Senior teammate Taylor Ramirez won vault as well as the all-around.
"We don't have our full lineup yet, but we're making some progress toward it," Ramirez said. "It's been a little rough, but we're working our hardest at practice. I wasn't quite as satisfied because I was a little shaky on every event, but that's just part of this sport so you practice and hope your next one is better."
Anna Diab won beam, while Maddie Diab, Katherine Hoban, Maia Lee, Abby Myers, Taylor Ramirez, Bhagwakar and Ramirez all contributed to the winner's total score.
The Rams sneaked up on the Hilltoppers thanks to the return of Kali Katheiser, who has been sidelined with a tailbone injury. She won bars and placed second in the all-around.
"It feels good to be back out there doing all-around," she said. "I feel pretty good. I still have a little pain, but it's getting a lot better. I'm proud of us. We're doing really well this year and I'm excited to see how far we go this season."
Erin Donovan, Rebecca Honig, Sierra Olson and Sydney Nasternak also had strong afternoons for the Rams.
York took fourth place with a 132.2 despite not having a single gymnast finish in the Top 10 in any event. Angelina Deblasio and Maryalice Shockey led the Dukes with a 32.175 and 31.225 in the all-around, respectively.
Palatine was fifth with a 132.025 and followed by Barrington's 130.925 and a 129.725 by Prospect.
"We're not ready yet," Pirates coach Terry Theobald said. "We'll get there. We have four meets in 10 days so we're swamped now."
Marina Andric was third on beam and fourth in the all-around and Olivia Tader placed fifth on floor to lead Prospect.
Downers Grove North was eighth with Kenna Cinnotte taking third on vault.
Neuqua Valley placed ninth behind Janie Riehs, who placed second on beam.
The host Huskies were 10th with a 127.6 with Kelsey Sumser leading the way, taking third in the all-around and finishing in the Top 5 in all but beam.
"I'm definitely doing better than last year by adding in a lot of difficulty and being a lot more confident and having better execution with everything," Sumser said. "It feels good to just be among these great gymnasts and it's great to place as high as I did today."
Competing at home definitely provided a boost for Sumser.
"It's fun having the home crowd and all my family and friends here to support me," she said. "It just makes it a lot more fun and there's a lot less pressure coming off of having less practices during break and knowing the equipment and environment."