Glenbard West's Diab ties up three state medals
A decorative hair tie flew out of Anna Diab's hair while she performed her floor routine during Saturday's IHSA girls gymnastics individual event championships.
She didn't miss a beat, though, completing a seemingly flawless routine to bring the 2020 state finals to a close with her runner-up finish.
"My hair was a little loose and started falling out at the beginning of my routine," she said. "I did a little dance move and it flew out. I didn't even notice it happened."
There were more important things for Diab to pay attention to, namely her magic on the mat, which earned her a 9.7. Prairie Ridge co-op's Gracie Willie won the event with a 9.725 and Prairie Ridge also won the team title for the fourth time in six years with a 148.25.
Diab also tied for fourth place on bars after taking second place during Friday's all-around competition to earn three medals just a year after being limited to serving as a beam specialist due to a back injury.
"I think it shows how much I've improved because freshmen year I think I was seventh in the all-around," she said. "And last year I didn't even do all-around, so this year to get second was really big for me. I'm really happy about it."
Diab fell during her beam routine and found herself in eighth place with an 8.825 and little time to shake it off and go out and do her floor routine.
If there were any concerns that any disappointment was going to carry over, she shed that pretty quickly as she glided through her performance, closing the meet for the second straight day.
"I was really sad because my beam routines are so consistent in practice and I don't usually ever fall on it," she said. "I was like, 'OK, it happens, but it's over,' so I got to floor and tried to do the best that I could after being let down like that. I didn't even think I could place that high on floor. I was really happy about that."
Glenbard East's Kali Kartheiser tied Diab for fourth place on bars with a 9.425.
"I feel like getting the medal this year was even better than last year (fifth on bars in 2019) because I had to push myself even more with the injury to get here," Kartheiser said. "Being there on that podium just felt wonderful."
As did finishing in fourth place as a team as the Rams' score remained a 146.25.
"From going from seventh (last year) to fourth in the state is a wonderful feeling," Kartheiser said. "We have another banner now to go up on our wall."
Senior Kelsey Donovan competed for the final time for the Rams, taking ninth on floor with a 9.05 while junior Becca Honig also competed in the finals on floor, taking 10th with an 8.8.
Glenbard North juniors Sarah Ozeki and Katie Wagner work on beam side-by-side during practice and perform like body doubles of each other. On Friday Wagner nailed her routine and Ozeki followed right after her and did the same.
On Saturday Ozeki was the second competitor to perform while Wagner had to wait for four others after Ozeki before it was her turn.
Waiting was not easy.
"Music usually calms me down so I usually listen to music right before I go so I don't hear falls or anything that can psych me out," Wagner said. "I tried to put my AirPods away and thought I'd be fine cheering for Sarah, but I just couldn't."
Wagner plugged her AirPods back in but faced a wall as Ozeki scored a 9.3, which was an improvement over her 9.275 on Friday and earned her a fifth-place medal.
"I'm feeling like this isn't real," Ozeki said. "I never thought I'd be on the podium this year so it's amazing. After my routine was done I had only one job -- to keep this girl (Wagner) calm."
Wagner, who qualified for state via an at-large berth, took seventh place with an 8.875 after scoring a 9.2 in the prelims. Perhaps most amazing is that the Glenbard North duo was among the final 10 competitors on beam from a field that started with over 325 gymnasts during regionals week.
"The entire season neither of us placed on beam," Wagner said. "So we never expected any of this to happen."
Hinsdale Central's Caroline Klobach took sixth on beam with a 9.4.