Clark, Wheaton Warrenville co-op take regional
Watching her Wheaton Warrenville co-op teammates successfully hit their routines before her gives Maura Clark all the confidence that she needs when working her bars routine.
But she still has to go out there and execute to get it done.
Clark certainly got it done on the uneven parallel bars during Thursday's Wheaton Warrenville South regional, edging DeKalb/Sycamore co-op's Madeline Kees, 9.475 to 9.45, which helped host Wheaton Warrenville co-op sneak past DeKalb/Sycamore co-op, 141.975 to 141.075.
Both teams advance to Monday's Glenbard South sectional, but Wheaton Warrenville co-op will head to Glen Ellyn as a regional champion.
"My bars have been a long time coming," Clark, a senior, said. "I'm glad I was able to do it when it mattered a lot more. It's mostly been a consistency issue for me. I think it helps when everyone is confident in our bars rotation and we keep the momentum going. In practice it seems like we're all pretty consistent, but in meets, not always."
Clark's 9.475 matched Glenbard West's Anna Diab for the top bars score among the teams feeding into Monday sectional.
In order to win on Thursday, Wheaton Warrenville co-op needed to go deep, using the scores of nine gymnasts to hold off DeKalb/Sycamore, which utilized just five all-arounders, including Kees, who won vault, beam and the all-around.
Kees edged Wheaton Warrenville co-op senior Jamie LaBue, 37 to 36.175 for the all-around title. LaBue won floor with a 9.425.
"We're just trying to focus on what we need to do and trying to do what we do in practice," LaBue said. "This being my last home meet got into my head a little bit and I thought about how I've been doing gymnastics for about 12 years and now only have two weeks left, but I let that thought go. I think we've all been working on consistency and improving our overall skills and it showed today."
That darn inanimate object known as the beam had a field day, victimizing both DeKalb/Sycamore co-op and Wheaton Warrenville co-op. Wheaton still outscored the Barbs, 34.15 to 33.4, getting a huge boost from freshmen Ava Archuletta and Ashley Huang. Both compete solely on beam and Archuletta took second and Huang delivered an 8.175, waiting patiently all evening to make an impact.
"Ava and Ashley had to wait the whole meet and they're both newcomers trying to keep up with the old veterans," Wheaton Warrenville co-op coach Maureen Kermend said. "It was tough to come back from the falls, but they stuck with it."
Junior Emily Burnham took third place in the all-around with a 35.325.
"I think we did well and there's never a meet where everything is perfect," she said. "We make mistakes every meet, but we never make the same mistake again in a meet. We powered through our mistakes and next meet we expect to do better."
Natalie Gillis, Sam Nepras, Julia Ripp and Kate Weber also added at least one score that contributed to the team total. That included an 8.75 on bars from Nepras and an 8.9 on floor from Gillis.
"I think every time we go out there we don't focus on individuals but bettering everyone," Gillis said. "There's more we can do to get better -- form, steps, landings -- I think we came out powerful tonight. We just need to keep it going."
U-46 co-op ended its team season, finishing in third place with a 130.425.
Sophomore Madi Aycock, a newcomer this season from Bartlett, led U-46 co-op. She automatically qualified for sectionals by taking fourth on beam and fourth on floor and earning an at-large qualifier in the all-around with a 34.475.
"It was pretty nerve-wracking," she said. "I just wanted to go out there and perform my best, but it gets you sometimes. I started on vault and bars, which are my best events, so that helps a lot because I'm not as nervous on them so I was more nervous at the end then the beginning."
Since it was the final regional for the Glenbard South sectional, unofficial cutoffs were known afterward, which determined that U-46 co-op freshman Zoe Lee will advance on beam after taking sixth place with an 8.45 and senior Gianna Murkowski's life as a high school gymnast will continue as she scored a 31.425 in the all-around.