Buffalo Grove's Tangorra showcases determination at state finals
Not even an injured wrist could slow down Buffalo Grove's Olivia Tangorra.
Competing in her final event, the senior put together her finest performance on her career. She scored a 9.50 to tie for a second-place finish on the bars at the individual girls state gymnastics finals at Palatine High School on Saturday.
"Warmups didn't go as I wanted them to," Tangorra said. "I strained my wrist and it was difficult to catch my Geinger (release move). I wasn't sure how I would do."
Tangorra said she had to push through it. And that determination paid off. She increased her score from Friday's qualifying round when she had the highest score with a 9.45.
"I had to compete," Tangorra said. "It is my senior year and my last performance. It is a great memory that I will have for the rest of my life."
Prospect's Emily Gianfrancesco also had a huge day. After finishing eighth in the all-around in Friday, Gianfrancesco was the last of 11 vaulters in the state finals. The junior was able to deliver and finished third with a 9.675.
"I am super excited," Gianfrancesco said. "I was really nervous. But it was great having my teammates here cheering me on. It got me excited and really helped."
Hoffman Estates' Elyssa Wuerffel finished off an exciting week.
Wuerffel was named Winter Student athlete for the top grade-point average. The senior finished 26th in the all-around on Friday.
She then completed the trifecta by finishing fifth on the beam Saturday, scoring a 9.125. Wuerffel became the first Hoffman girls gymnast to medal since Tristan Erlenbaugh in 2002.
"I was shaking," Wuerffel said. "My whole school was wishing me luck. And it was nice to win a medal."
Hersey's Sabrina Nemcek just missed the podium on the bars. The freshman finished tied for sixth with a 9.225.
"I was able to calm myself down," Nemcek said. "I was able to hit my handsprings on the bars. It was a big deal to make it to finals, especially as a freshman. It was so exciting to be here."
After a solid performance on Friday, Rolling Meadows' Brooklyn Hextall struggled on the bars Saturday and scored an 8.425. But the junior still looked at it as a positive experience.
"I was more nervous today than yesterday," Hextall said. "It is something I can work on for next year. And I am coming back with our team too."
Rolling Meadows coach Mike Costa said Hextall will be able to learn from the experience.
"There is a huge difference between disheartened and disappointed," Costa said. "You can be disheartened by your performance, but your can't be disappointed at where you are at."
Prairie Ridge won its fifth state title and second in a row with a score of 148.50. Vernon Hills was second with a 146.70 and DeKalb was third with a 146.575.
DeKalb's Madeline Kees won the bars with a 9.65 and the beam with a 9.425. Prairie Ridge's Gracie Willis and Gabriella Riley won the floor with 9.675. Vernon Hills' Lily Tran and Libertyville's Anna Becker won the vault with a 9.725.