Carmel second, Lake Zurich third at state finals
Carmel Catholic, Lake Zurich and Prairie Ridge were involved in a three-way battle Saturday to see who would be this year's girls gymnastics state champion at Palatine High School.
The three teams started Saturday's finals with a difference of .275 points between them. There was plenty of chalk and outstanding routines between the three, but once the dust settled, Prairie Ridge claimed the title with a score of 148.25. Carmel settled for second (147.85) and Lake Zurich third (147.25).
The Corsairs started the day in third place behind Prairie Ridge and Lake Zurich, but they managed to take a lead before the Wolves ended up back ahead of Carmel in the final two events.
"It's so exciting," Carmel coach Sarah Mikrut Doyle. "We made a strategic decision to make a change for Lyndsey's (Basara) beam routine. I wrestled with it and I knew I wanted to stick to my guns on it. We took out a skill and because she's a team player, she was willing to do that. She kept it clean and she went up two-and-a-half tenths. We thought that was our shot to get the biggest increase. Prairie Ridge has girls that are fantastic with super high level difficulty and to wrestle back and forth with them -- what an amazing state meet."
Basara had scored a 9.40 on her beam routine, up from a 9.15 on Friday, that had moved Carmel ahead of Prairie Ridge 147.85 to 147.80.
"This is so surreal and I can't put it into words," Basara said. "I'm so excited and happy for my team and this program. It was very emotional. I wasn't thinking about our team before I went. I was in my own little bubble and I thinking about our team and how can I do this for them. I just wanted to do the best I can do. Afterwards, when I heard (the score), I was very emotional. I knew it wasn't final, but I was so thankful to be here with my team and hugging everybody I love. There was a lot weighing on it today, because we wanted to push into second. We were focusing on doing everything the same, staying in our bubble, being Carmel and not putting so much pressure on the team. We knew that we got a trophy and wanted to enjoy it."
Gracie Willis put Prairie Ridge back in the lead with her impressive and near flawless floor routine, as she posted the top score of 9.725 and put the Wolves ahead of the Corsairs 147.95 to 147.85. Then, teammate Gabriella Riley, the all-around champion, captured the top beam score of 9.55 that made a four-tenths difference between the two teams.
Lake Zurich, in its first state meet, finished third, a great accomplishment considering the school returned back to gymnastics just three years ago.
"The girls came just wanting to get some hardware, but really with no expectations," Lake Zurich coach Chelsie Groteleuschen said. "They came in here to do the best that they could and to know that we were right in line with the some of the best teams in the state. To come in and qualify as a team at state is a big deal, but then to place at state is a bigger deal. More than half of our team didn't know what it took to make it. I'm so proud of them and they are a great group of girls."
The Bears' Kayla Bailey, performing last on vault in the preliminaries, was first in the finals and still landed in first place with Basara with a 9.725. Bailey also picked up other medals -- fourth on beam (9.35), fifth on floor (9.475) and was third in the all-around Friday.
"It was a crazy experience and I never thought this would happen," Bailey said. "I came in more just to have fun, place and do well. I really didn't realize how it can work out."
Clare Keane of Carmel earned top honors on the bars with a strong routine and posted a 9.575.
"It's just an overwhelming feeling that finally all my work paid off," Keane said. "I've been working on bars for a long time trying to get my consistency back with the fears that I have. Just being able to hit under the pressure and helping my team's score. It's just an overwhelming feeling. We just finally got the trophy that we wanted."
Basara also placed fourth on floor with a 9.5 while Isabella Kropiwiec of Carmel was a place ahead with a 9.575. Kropiwiec also tied for fifth with Lake Forest's Kristin Fisch and Riley on vault (9.6).
Emily Weinstein of Stevenson finished third on the vault (9.7) just ahead of Highland Park's Becca Gordon (9.675). Weinstein also was fourth in the all-around on Friday.
"I'm really excited and this was definitely a goal of mine," Weinstein said. "It was a great way to end (my senior year). I was happy how it ended up, even if I didn't place. I worked hard to get this far and wanted to keep on improving. So, I'm very happy."