Glenbard West slides into fourth place at state meet
Alina Bhagwakar, Grace Flint, Brooklyn Ford, Janelle Gama and Meagan McNamara weren't in the individual competition of the IHSA girls gymnastics finals, but it did nothing to stop them from helping put Glenbard West in a position to take fourth in the state.
Glenbard West outscored its sectional total with 144.9 points Friday at Palatine. Carmel is right behind the Hilltoppers with 144.6, and Prairie Ridge co-op is on the cusp of winning its fifth state title with 147.9 points, comfortably in front of runner-up Vernon Hills by 1.475 and DeKalb/Sycamore co-op's 146.3.
"It was just a commanding performance from another Glenbard West team," Hilltoppers coach Carlos Fuentes said. "20-for-20. To think that you could have that kind of day with the highest pressure. We came in a little bit under the radar, but we knew what we could do with a special team with so many specialists.
"Meagan (McNamara) with a 9.5 on vault, Skylar Oh with a 9.325 on bars, Janelle Gama led off the meet with a 9.05 on beam in her first state meet ever. She hadn't even witnessed one. These were some of the parts that made a 144.9, which is an impressive showing at any meet."
Samantha Hopper and Oh led the Hilltoppers with both advancing to Saturday's individual finals. Hopper tied for second place on floor with a 9.4. Oh tied for sixth on bars with a 9.325 and tied for fifth on floor with a 9.325. The top 10 finishers in each event advance to the finals.
"We really put it together," Oh said. "We've definitely been really trying hard in the gym to be consistent and we were super excited and happy to have our best meet as a team at state."
Knowing she was competing for the last time, McNamara didn't hold back on her vault, which ended up being the eighth best score of the afternoon.
"I had to change my mindset from the sectional and compete here for my team," she said. "Coming here and hitting everything as a team is better than any state qualifying. We didn't have any idea of how this would play out, but it's honestly such a great feeling. This is one of the greatest meets we've had and we've had some great moments."
Downers Grove South senior Katrina Carlson finished seventh in the all-around to lead a strong collection of area gymnasts and her team to eighth place with a 141.85. Hinsdale Central senior Kelly Klobach (36.75), Wheaton Warrenville co-op sophomore Haylie Hinckley (36.55), Downers Grove co-op junior Kathryn Snouffer (36.4), Lake Park senior Paula Naronowicz (36.4) and Willowbrook senior Bella Naumovsky (36.25) placed in the Top 20.
"I was just looking forward to a really fun last meet since I've been doing gymnastics my whole life," Carlson said. "My coach tells me if you want it too bad you won't get it, so I came in trying to be as calm as I could and to stay collected and confident and enjoy the time with the team, because we're all very close, and then hit after hit and this was my best meet overall this year."
Carlson's top score came on her favorite event, the beam, where she tied for eighth place with a 9.375, to qualify for Saturday's event finals.
"I didn't expect to be anywhere near the top in the all-around," she said. "I'm really excited for beam."
Junior Kathryn Snouffer will join Carlson in representing her Downers Grove co-op squad on Saturday as she qualified on floor with a 9.25.
Naronowicz was happy to earn the opportunity to compete one final time, while her sophomore teammate Julia Bartnik was excited for the first-time experience, scoring a 35.55 in the all-around.
"This was a great experience and I felt I performed pretty well overall," Naronowicz said. "I feel this was the best way to end my gymnastics career."
Said Bartnik: "I thought I did pretty good. I was just having fun and loved watching all the gymnasts."
Glenbard North junior Brooklyn McQuillan (35.775), Naperville North seniors Rigley Jump (35.4) and Katie Kristle (34.625), Geneva sophomore Brooke Lussnug (34.95) and Downers Grove co-op junior Emily Smetana (34.525) also were in the all-around competition.
Jump, who is in her first and final season for the Huskies, earned the final qualifier on bars after a four-way tying score of 9.25.
One of the girls she tied was Klobach, who also advanced on vault with a 9.525.