McGurk does her part for Glenbard West

By Chris Walker
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 1/19/2019 8:16 PM

Claire McGurk got called to the award stand for finishing in fifth place on bars during Saturday's York Invitational.

The Glenbard West senior's 8.6 score wasn't even used by the Hilltoppers because four of her teammates scored even higher than she did.

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It was that kind of dominance that McGurk and the Hilltoppers enjoyed while cruising to victory with 148.025 points.

Maddie Diab won bars, Maia Lee placed second and Abby Myers and Taylor Ramirez tied for third.

"Every day at practice we make sure to do a timed warmup and hit our routines and our main goal is to hit five in a row," McGurk said. "Sometimes we keep going until we hit that because it's important to have that consistency in our bar lineup. We want to hit like that every time we go out and perform."

Achieving consistency is something the Hilltoppers are doing, despite sophomore Anna Diab being limited by injury and forced to transition from an all-arounder to a beam specialist.

Glenbard West scored a 148 in its dual victory at Lyons Twp. on Wednesday and a state-best 150.3 last Saturday at the Mari-Rae Sopper Inviational at Fremd.


"Our consistency is starting to show, but we have to sharpen our skills for the postseason," Hilltoppers coach Carlos Fuentes said. "I think our bars team is what separated us last year and it could separate us this year. We really have five athletes up on bars and that's without even putting someone like Katherine Hoban up and she was a state qualifier her sophomore year and still is as talented."

Ramirez won the vault, en route to winning the all-around. It was fourth all-around championship at an invitational this season for the senior.

Maddie Diab also won floor as well as bars and Anna Diab won beam. Lee put up big scores on vault, bars and beam and freshman Alina Bhagwakar joined in the fun among the seniors with a 9.3 on vault.

"I think the depth we have makes it challenging but pushes our team to do better," Fuentes said. "I think the unsung hero is someone like Claire McGurk and even Anna Diab for having to switch roles from being a Top 10 all-arounder last year to being a beam specialist. It's akin to being a closer or designated hitter (in baseball) and doing that one special skill."

Lake Park continues to improve, taking second place with a season-high 139.125.

Racquel Suhr and Paulina Lucer finished second and third in the all-around. Suhr also placed third on floor while teammate Julia Naronowicz was fifth on floor for the Lancers.


"Practices are paying off and we're working a lot harder," Suhr said. "Everyone is getting more healthy, which makes our team better. It's been hard at times, but we just try to keep a positive attitude because we know we can do well."

Suhr was pleased with her performance.

"I think it went well for me and it's always nice to have my teammates pushing for me," she said. "I think everyone is contributing a lot for the team. Now we've got conference on Friday."

The host Dukes were third with a 135.975.

Lailah Waddell tied Naperville North's Kelsey Sumser for fourth place on vault with a 9.2.

"I feel like my vault has been a little rocky since the beginning of the season," Waddell said. "It's been getting better. Today was like a last meet before conference and regional so I felt like it was fine if we messed up because we still have another opportunity to work it back up."

Maryalice Shockley took fourth on beam for the Dukes with a 9.1. York didn't have any all-arounders but had eight gymnasts contribute to its team score.

Naperville North took fifth place with a 127.525. The Huskies had just scored a 132.95 in a dual meet at home on Thursday. What happened?

"We started off really slow, but hopefully we got out all the little quirks," Huskies coach Chris Stanicek said. "They picked it up the last two events so at least they finished strong."

Conant, Glenbrook North, Hinsdale Central, Sandburg/Stagg co-op and Lincoln-Way co-op, which won it in 2017, did not compete. The snowy conditions were the assumed culprit.

"We're always prepared for anything and we knew that maybe some teams wouldn't come today because of the snow," McGurk said. "But we knew it was our job to come here and do the best routines that we can."

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