Girls gymnastics: Lake Zurich, Vernon Hills enjoying good seasons
A great start to the season has set the table for Lake Zurich girls gymnastics team.
The Bears opened the season with a close victory over Carmel Catholic 145.5 to 144.45.
Carmel was second and Lake Zurich was third in last year's state meet. However, this season was shortened because of COVID-19 to dual meets and a conference meet.
The Bears' gymnasts include senior Kayla Bailey, junior Rayna Kauffman and sophomore Angela (AJ) Burk.
"It's a sprint of a season, and the focus has been balancing the team to keep girls healthy, but also pushing them to reach their season goals," Lake Zurich coach Chelsie Groteleuschen said. "Overall, the team has been working hard to come together and enjoy everything this season will offer. I am beyond proud of their hard work and continuing to set lofty goals despite the shortened season without a state series. Seeing them smile and having fun is priceless this season."
Kauffman came back strong this season after a midseason injury last year. Burk continues to put in hard work at each practice and she continues to practice until what she does is perfected. Bailey has come out this year with an attitude of not leaving anything back.
Lake Zurich, the front-runner in the North Suburban Conference has been in the 140s, while Stevenson and Lake Forest could contend in the expected conference meet at Lake Forest on March 13.
It's been a good season for gymnasts at Vernon Hills and in the Central Suburban North. The Cougars are having virtual meets with one judge at each site.
Vernon Hills has won all of its duals (5-0) so far. The Cougars scored a season-best of 133.05 against Niles North.
"Our girls are improving every week and we are almost at full strength," Vernon Hills coach Jerry Miceli said. "Annika Chuddy is a freshman stand out for us."
District 117 (Antioch/Lakes):
District 117 had its first meet on Wednesday and fell to the powerful Prairie Ridge co-op 148.6 to 129.50.
"We were set back because we could only get into the gyms that we work out of a couple days a week due to COVID numbers," District 117 coach Angelica Campese said. " We're doing everything we can to make this season work."
Some girls to watch are Joycelyn Crum, Sydney Friel, Josie Gates and Jenna Lamberty.
Moving forward, District 117 is trying to get more meets scheduled before the end of the season.
"We were disappointed when season got paused because we knew this year we had great potential with being a newer program," Campese added. "We were able to get a little season in for these athletes. As of now we only have three meets planned, which is better than nothing but I still wish these athletes got a full season like they deserved."
Dealing with the shortened season, Libertyville has found positives.
"Overall, the athletes and coaches alike are happy the season is moving forward," Libertyville coach Tiffany Owens said. "The challenge has been getting skills back after having a nine-month hiatus for many of the athletes. We've been working on increasing strength and endurance so skills will come back."
Work and the performances have taken on a bigger role this season for the Wildcats.
"The interpersonal connection between the athletes has also been a focus." Owens added. "We want the athletes to be able to connect with each other and build team camaraderie."
"Senior Liv Bertaud has been a fantastic leader in both her positive attitude and work ethic."
The Bulldogs are getting opportunities competing in some meets so far. Individuals Sarah Discher and Morgan Jacobs are both getting a chance to compete against other gymnasts in the area.
"I'm excited for Sarah Discher to be competing after coming back from an injury last season," Wauconda coach Elizabeth Prostka said. "Morgan Jacobs continues to improve on all her skills. Despite the shortened season the girls continue to work hard and enjoy each competition."