Prospect's Gianfrancesco shines at Knights' invite

By Bill Esbrook
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 1/15/2022 9:14 PM

It was a great day for a Prospect Knight.

Emily Gianfrancesco, a Prospect sophomore, won her first meet as she finished first in the all-around at Saturday's Knights Varsity Gymnastics Invitational.


Gianfrancesco scored 36.075, and her victory came as no surprise to coach Monica Donner-Fogle.

"She's a sweet, smart, and very talented kid," said Donner-Fogle of Gianfrancesco, who led her team to the invite win as well.

Prospect put up a point total of 139.025 for the victory, with Buffalo Grove (134.85) second and Schaumburg (133.55) third.

Gianfrancesco won the vault with a 9.50 and the floor exercise with a 9.10.

"Today was super exciting," said Gianfrancesco, who started in the sport in the second grade and then leveled-up to her current varsity excellence.

"We started on vault, I hit my vault, and (actually) our entire team started out strong. Then we went to bars and all had clean routines. Except for a couple of hiccups, it was an amazing day."

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It was a season-high score for the Knights, according to Donner-Fogle.

"It all went very well for us," said the coach, " and it was nice to see a lot of spectators, a lot of fans cheering the girls on."

Olivia Tangorra of Buffalo Grove (35.90) was second in the all-around, while teammate Leah Oyen (34.95) took third.

Tangorra won the balance beam at 9.30, Oyen was second in the floor exercise with a 9.05, and runner up as well on the parallel bars, scoring 8.90.

For Schaumburg, Amelia Mazeikis (8.90) finished second in the balance beam and was fourth in the all-around, while Chali Baumann took second place in the vault with a 9.10.

Both Mazeikis and Baumann are juniors.

"Amelia is a strong leader on the team," said Saxons coach Eric Harima. "She's a very dynamic gymnast, always consistent, and always does a nice job.


"And Chali is such a hard worker. She never complains, she always wants to come in and take an extra turn. She's constantly trying to push herself, but she's recovering from a couple nagging injuries, and sometimes we have to calm her down a little because she always tries to push through the pain."

Elk Grove coach Abi Diaz was impressed with the performance of his sophomore gymnast, Adrienne Vergara, who was injured during the latter stages of last season but has returned strong.

"She was awesome on floor and on the bars today, and she had her best all-around score," said Diaz. "It's nice to see her hit those numbers again (after her ankle injury a season ago.) She understood that she needed to sit out awhile last year, and she's come back hungry and put in the work."

Angelina Rago (8.95) of Prospect won the parallel bars, while Gianfrancesco added third-place finishes in the bars and the beam to her winning total.

Gianfrancesco, an elite athlete who competes at club with Lake Shore Academy, is already in the planning process for competing in college, where at the moment her goal is to possibly major in law or environmental sciences.

For now, though, she's thoroughly enjoying her sophomore campaign.

"My freshman year, there were no invites (due to COVID)," said Gianfrancesco, "so this is a big step. We're all so happy to be back, and we were happy that we were able to train over the summer."

Gianfrancesco added that she looks at her current high school and club teammates and coaches, as well as athletes like Simone Biles, as role models.

"I appreciate everybody in the gym who's helped motivate me," she said. "The thing is now we've got to continue putting in the hard work. High school gymnastics is so much fun -- it's been a super cool experience. I hope to make it to state this year, place on vault, and have fun with my teammates. I love them all, and we have such a strong bond. It's been amazing."

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