Glenbard East does its best -- again
Glenbard East set a school record with 146.25 points during Friday's IHSA girls gymnastics finals and all but ensured a fourth-place team finish.
Last year the Rams took seventh place in their first trip to Palatine.
"We come in and try to do the best that we can do, and we've been doing it over and over and over again," Rams coach Jessica Bugajsky said. "I always tell them to go out there and have as much fun as you can have and we'll see where we end up, and it paid off awesome for us today."
Prairie Ridge (147.8 points), Lake Zurich (147.575) and Carmel (147.525) remain in the hunt for the championship trophy, which will be decided during Saturday's championship finals.
New Trier is behind the Rams with a 145.875 but only has one gymnast in a single event that can boost its team score, while the Rams have three. Rebecca Honig and Kelsey Donovan advanced to the finals on floor. Kali Kartheiser will attempt to bring a bars title home to Lombard.
"We were going for fifth, but we got fourth," Donovan said. "We cannot be more proud of ourselves. We couldn't be happier with our performance because of the high score. That's what makes the meet so awesome."
The Rams finished on beam with a 36.375 and were fantastic. Only Lake Zurich's 36.5 was better.
"Our growth has been the best part," Donovan said. "We went up three places (from last year) and I hit the best beam routine of my life and tied my regional score of 9.275 but didn't make it here because I fell at the sectional meet. But there was really no better way to go out. I took 10th in the all-around, which is crazy to me."
Donovan had a 36.9, Honig scored a 36.775 and Erin Donovan a 36.2.
Glenbard West's Anna Diab fell just short of giving the Diab name its fourth all-around title in five years. The junior finished with a 37.75 to Prairie Ridge co-op freshman Gabriella Riley's 37.85. Diab advanced to the finals on everything except for vault.
"I did a pretty good vault, probably the best I could do, and then I went to bars and did OK but not my best," Diab said. "Bars wasn't bad but could've been better. The same with my beam. I thought my floor was the best it could be and then that was cool to finish off on floor where no one else was going and it was just me."
One of the biggest challenges of the state meet is its length and how that affects gymnasts. It's especially daunting for those who qualify in a single event and have to wait and wait and wait to finish. Apparently, Glenbard North junior Katie Wagner has tremendous patience.
She was one of the last gymnasts to compete on beam during the final rotation but still nailed her routine with a 9.2.
"We've been practicing for this for the past week so I would do a routine at the beginning of practice and then not do it again until the end of practice," Wagner said. "And Sarah (Ozeki) helps me. She makes me laugh and not think about stuff so that helps. It was a lot easier then I thought because I thought it would be the scariest thing I've ever done, but I told myself I have nothing to lose since I'm already here."
Wagner surprised herself.
"This is all a surprise," she said. "I never expected to be here. I never expected to get to the finals. This is so crazy."
Ozeki followed Wagner with a 9.275 on beam and both earned the privilege of representing the Panthers in the finals. Glenbard North is the only school in the state with two beam qualifiers.
"I fed off of her good energy and used that in my beam routine," Ozeki said. "I never think to myself that Katie did good so I have to do as good. I always see her happy and it makes me instantly happy too and I'm ready."
Beth Benevente was the last Glenbard North gymnast to medal on beam when she took fourth in 1985.
Downers Grove co-op placed seventh with 142.775 points. Mia Bowers scored a 36.175 in the all-around for the co-op. Freshman Kathryn Snouffer suffered the heartbreak of just missing qualifying for the finals on floor, placing 11th with a 9.35 while the cutoff was a 9.375.
"I felt like three of the four events were good for us," Downers Grove co-op coach Kristyn Campos said. "We had some of our higher totals of the year, good clean routines, and we hit all of our vaults. Beam wasn't our best, but that's OK. They did well. Seventh in the state is still quite an accomplishment with where we started at 136 points. To make it to state and go up eight points is just awesome."
Lake Park seniors Julia Kurek and Julia Naronowicz competed for the final time. Kurek had an 8.925 on bars and Naronowicz scored a 9.2 on floor. Her sister, sophomore Paula Naronowicz, had an 8.95 on beam, while junior Racquel Suhr totaled a 9.175 on floor and 8.25 on beam.
Willowbrook sophomore Bella Naumovsky scored 9.3 on bars but just missed qualifying as 9.325 proved to be the cutoff.
Wheaton co-op senior Jamie LaBue, who won state on beam in 2018, did not advance to the finals with an 8.725. She also had a 9.2 on floor and earned a 35.175 as an all-arounder. Emily Burnham was strong on bars with a 9.225 but also fell short of advancing to Saturday's finals.
Burnham scored a 36.75 in the all-around. Lastly, senior Natalie Gillis scored a 9.175 on floor.
Neuqua Valley's Baylee Modaff earned an 8.125 beam.