Rolling Meadows' Kane completes the journey by finishing 2nd on bars
Nicole Kane's plan came to a great ending Saturday at the girls state gymnastics individual finals at Palatine High School.
The Rolling Meadows senior nailed her Heli Twirl on the bars to near perfection. Then on her dismount, a spot which nearly cost her in sectionals, she landed on her feet. But a small step caused a minor deduction in her score.
Kane scored a 9.525 to finish second in the state to Carmel's Clare Keene, who won the event with a 9.575.
"It was very, very likely that I was not going to be here," Kane said. "I did the skill I was scared to do and did it well. I upgraded my routine and I left it all out there."
Kane was quite familiar with being in the state finals and ending up on the winners' podium. She finished third in the state on the bars as a sophomore and second in the state last year.
"I just say that you have to keep hoping for the best and not second-guess yourself," Kane said. "Even if it was not your best, hopefully you get a chance to do what you know you can do."
Kane, who fell at sectionals during her bar routine, scored high enough to earn an at-large spot to the preliminary finals. She then was able to work her way into the individual finals on Friday.
"It was amazing," Rolling Meadows coach Mike Costa said. "We put a plan into place on Monday. It is nice to see things go to fruition and end like that."
Schaumburg's Alexis Rothmeyer also was in the same finals event. The Schaumburg sophomore fell on the event last year in the same individual finals and finished 10th in the state.
Her performance on Saturday was much improved and she landed her dismount to score a 9.225 to finish ninth this year out of 11 competitors.
"It was good," Rothmeyer said. "I am proud. I tried to stay really tight and did what I could and tried my best."
Schaumburg coach Amber Mirski said she is already looking forward to what Rothmeyer will accomplish next season.
"I know that she is hard on herself," Mirski said. "She has a lot to be proud of. She has a lot of goals and wants to continue to get better."
Barrington's Alana Riemenschneider also needed some last-minute help to get to the beam finals. Riemenschneider was the final at-large qualifier from her sectional meet after struggling at regionals.
Riemenschneider also made the most of her journey and finished sixth in the state. She scored a 9.15 on the event, but came up a bit short of the 9.30 needed to tie for fifth place and make the medal stand.
But to Riemenschneider, that didn't matter.
"I am fine with it," said a smiling Riemenschneider. "I wasn't expected to make state. So just making it to state and then making it to state finals. I just wanted to hit my routine, more than anything, because I am senior. And I did."
Barrington coach Jason Loeffler said Riemenschneider was able to shrug off the nerves.
"For her to hit both days was beyond my expectation," Loeffler said. "Her nerves were through the roof since we got here. She zoned in on herself and did exactly what she needed to do to finish off the season."
Conant's Julia Betts, who did not compete in Saturday's finals, was named senior gymnast of the year.
There was drama for the team title.
Friday's scores had Prairie Ridge, Lake Zurich and Carmel all within .375 of each other with the ability to raise their scores should their individual final qualifiers increase their score from Friday's prelims.
The lead changed hands twice within just a few minutes during the final rotation. In the end, Prairie Ridge won the title with a 148.25. Carmel was second with a 147.85 and Lake Zurich, making its first state finals appearance as a team, was third with a 147.725.
Prairie Ridge's Gabriella Riley won the vault with a 9.725 and the beam with a 9.55. Her teammate Gracie Willis won the floor with a 9.725.