Lake Zurich's Bailey shines on vault
Kayla Bailey of Lake Zurich was the last gymnast of the state preliminaries to do her vault. She might have saved the best for last by nearly landing a Yurchenko half-front tuck, as she recorded the top score of 9.875 on Friday at the state meet at Palatine.
"Honestly, it's the technique that I've learned in the past and running hard," Bailey said. "I actually landed it, stuck it and maybe had a tiny step."
Bailey had a 9.8 vault at the Schaumburg sectional last week and found a way to raise that score in her first trip to the state meet at Palatine High School.
"I was last on vault and felt like I had to do everything," Bailey said. "I was feeling like I had to do this for the team and help the team out."
As for Lake Zurich, it is sitting in a three-way race for the team championship with Prairie Ridge as the leader with 147.8, Lake Zurich second with 147.575 and Carmel Catholic third (147.525), leaving a difference of .275 going into the finals on Saturday starting at 2 p.m.
A team can increase its score from a gymnast competing in the finals that has a higher score from the preliminaries.
"Going into the meet, it wasn't like being here or being there," Lake Zurich coach Chelsie Groteleuschen said. "Just come in and do our job. Just do what we have been doing in practice every single day. They are ready and just do what they did. Bars and beam didn't go exactly as we wanted to, but after an hour (waiting) going from beam to floor it was time to turnaround. The girls did awesome on floor and best vault we've had all season."
The Bears are making their inaugural appearance at state.
"Going into the qualifications and explaining how you can qualify as a team and as an individual," Groteleuschen said. "There was a lot of questions because they've never seen it and never been here before. Going into it, we're so team focused and it's not about we need a certain score or to beat a certain team. Just keep what we've been doing and we have the potential."
Bailey also finished third in the all-around with a 37.725 right behind Gabriella Riley of Prairie Ridge (37.85) and Glenbard West's Anna Diab (37.75).
"I was just happy to be here in the first place," Bailey said. "To do well, that's pretty awesome along with competing in the finals."
Bailey will not just compete on vault in the finals, but also on floor (9.475) and beam (9.2). Her teammate Kelsey Rothas will be on the floor (9.425).
Emily Weinstein of Stevenson finished fourth in the all-around with a 37.55 and landed on vault with a 9.775 for the finals.
"I think it's very exciting and I didn't put extra pressure on myself being my senior year," Weinstein said. "A lot of it is having fun and individual goals. It's going on right now and not thinking about making it to finals. I really can't control that. I was really shocked about the all-around and really didn't know about it."
Carmel's Claire Keane was last on the bars for the Corsairs and chalked up a top score of 9.6 that was right after her teammate Lyndsey Basara had a 9.5 that helped Carmel place in the hunt with Prairie Ridge and Lake Zurich.
"I actually didn't know what I needed," Keane said. "I really didn't know how close the team scores were. I just tried to block out everything teamwise and just focus on my performance because, really none of the other teams matter. You just need to focus on what needs to be done and do the best you can."
Carmel knew coming into the meet that it would be in the running and it was mentioned to the girls a couple months back about fighting for every tenth of a point.
"I knew this would be a close meet," Carmel coach Sarah Mikrut Doyle said. "It comes down to form and to stick your landings. I thought the girls fought super hard today. They put everything into it and they still have their heads held high."
Others from the Corsairs that qualified for the finals are Basara on vault (9.65), floor (9.6) and beam (9.15), Isabella Kropiwiec on vault (9.7) and floor (9.6) and Keane on floor (9.375).
Mundelein sits in sixth place with a 145.575 in its first appearance at state. Amanda Muensch will compete in the finals on beam (9.225).
"They worked hard all year long to get here," Mundelein coach Jesse Piland said. "When they got here, they didn't let their nerves get the best of them. They hit their routines and fought hard. I thought we did well and the experience was wonderful for everybody."
Anna Becker of Libertyville qualified for Saturday on vault (9.575) and bars (9.425)
Also making the finals on vault are Lake Forest's Kristin Fisch on vault (9.7) and Becca Gordon of Highland Park (9.575).