Glenbard West hits state's best mark of season
The Glenbard West girls gymnastics team seems to have found its groove.
The Hilltoppers hit a season-high 148.45 on Wednesday and continued to climb on Saturday at Fremd's Mari-Rae Sopper Invitational.
Senior Taylor Ramirez led the charge by taking second in the all-around (37.5) in leading defending state champion Glenbard West to the title with 150.30 points, a season best mark, in Palatine.
The Hilltoppers' score was also the best mark in Illinois this season.
"We're excited," said Glenbard West coach Carlos Fuentes of his team's big performance. "We are getting healthier and this is one of the first times we put up our full lineup. Once the momentum started building from one girl to the next, it really became a roller coaster."
New Trier junior Maeve Murdock took first in the all-around (37.65), helping the Trevians secure second place with an impressive mark (148.45). Host Fremd continued to impress by taking third (142.35), followed by Palatine (139.50) and Downers Grove South (138.35).
Ramirez had a solid day from start to finish in pushing the Hilltoppers' attack. She started by taking fourth on the floor (9.5) and then took first on vault (9.7) before finishing strong on both the bars (9.2) and beam (9.10).
"We knew it was it was within reach," said Ramirez of the Hilltoppers' major mark. "We have just been training our hardest and doing the best we can in practices, so that when we compete we just do what we normally do."
Senior Maddie Diab, the defending state all-around champion, was limited to three events but made them count.
Diab took first on the floor (9.8), added a fourth-place finish on bars (9.4) and capped her day by taking second on the beam (9.60).
"We started the season not as strong as we would have liked," said Diab, "but to get this score is really exciting and gives us a boost in confidence and we still have room to improve."
Sophomore Anna Diab contributed a first-place finish on beam (9.75), her only event, with senior Maia Lee taking fourth on vault (9.6), third on bars (9.45), and fourth on beam (9.3) as the Hilltoppers were on mark from top to bottom.
"They have been here and they know what to do," said Fuentes of his experienced squad. "We started slow at the beginning of the year, but we have started to pick up some speed."
Host Fremd also showed a bit of a spark.
The Vikings were coming off a big Mid-Suburban League West triangular meet victory over rivals Palatine and Barrington on Thursday and they had no let down on Saturday.
"I feel good," said Fremd coach Kacey Kronforst, whose team hit a season-best mark on Saturday. "We were coming off a big meet on Thursday and they came into practice on Friday and did what they needed to do."
Senior Gianna Christodoulopoulos (37.10) and junior Katie Vessell (36.45) went 3-5 in the all-around to power the Vikings.
Christodoulopoulos was solid from start to finish in tying for fifth on vault (9.5), adding strong marks on bars (8.95) and beam (9.10), and ending her day with an impressive third-place finish on floor (9.55).
"We wanted to finish with a bang on the floor," said Christodoulopoulos, "We didn't have the best beam but we kept a positive attitude and finished strong."
Vessell tied for fifth on the vault (9.5) and also had a strong floor performance (9.3), while senior Annika Walker added strong bars (9.2).
"Overall we have been pretty strong except on beam," said Vessell, "We'll continue to work on the beam and I think we will continue to get better."
Sophomore Alyssa Eckels gave Palatine a big lift by taking eighth in the all-around (35.85). The Pirates capped their day with strong floor performances as sophomore Elly Nilsen (9.3), Eckels (9.25), and freshman Sam Morgensen (9.1) all contributed solid marks.
"I think we are definitely going in the right direction," said Eckels. "We are working on cleaning up our routines and making them pretty. The skills are there, we just have to hit them."
Downers Grove South senior Abby Carlson also had a fine day. The Mustang senior took fourth in the all-around (36.65), finishing first on the bars (9.6), adding a third-place finish on vault (9.6) and taking fifth on the floor (9.45).
"Today was about coming out strong as a team and putting forth our best performance," said Carlson. "I am feeling confident with my gymnastics this year, but I'm just focusing on one skill, one event at a time."
Katrina Carlson added a fifth-place finish on beam (9.2) for the Mustangs.
Naperville Central's Lexi Swanson added a sixth-place finish on beam (9.15).