Girls gymnastics: Hersey wins sectional title, earns berth at state finals; Barrington also qualifies
Hersey likes when the wait is over.
The Huskies girls' gymnastics team had ordered new leotards last fall. They finally arrived Wednesday in time for Thursday's sectional at Conant in Hoffman Estates.
Not only did the Huskies don their stylish new uniforms, but they ended another wait as well. Hersey scored a 142.85 to win the sectional title and earn their first berth in the state finals since 1989.
"I am shaking," said Hersey coach Shannon Barrett, who was 2 years old when Hersey last went to state.
"I started crying right after beam because I knew. It has to be the new leotards."
The Huskies relied on a strong performance by Sabrina Nemcek, who won the all-around title with a 37.45. It was the second highest all-around score posted at all four sectionals meets, which concluded Thursday at Conant.
Nemcek was terrific in both the bars and the vault, winning both events. She scored a huge 9.70 on bars and had a 9.475 on the vault.
"Bars is my event, so I am glad I got a good score," Nemcek said. "I am proud of myself and my team. They are the best team I could possibly have."
Nemcek also got help from teammate Gianna Mazzola, who was seventh in the all-around with a 35.40. Grace Johnson was 10th with a 34.65 while Evelyn Gradek, Lauren Bayer and Jane Forseberg also had scores that counted.
"I told them to go out and have fun," Barrett said. "We put to much pressure on ourselves at regionals. Today, they hit like they needed them to do and that's what I wanted."
Barrington also ended six years of frustration to qualify for the state finals as an at-large team The Fillies, who just missed qualifying for state as an at-large team last season, had to overcome a key injury and some bad luck on Thursday. Barrington responded by coming up big when they needed to and qualified as an at-large team with a score of 142.20.
"It is great to get back there," Barrington coach Jason Loeffler said "We are very excited. We were hoping for a win tonight, but we are still making the trip."
The Fillies were without Ellie Marquis, who had surgery on her foot after injuring it on the beam two weeks ago. Barrington was led by Sofia RosenZweig, who was eighth in the all-around with a 34.90 and Anika Patel, who was fourth in the all-around with a 35.825. Ember Stennett, Jasmin Mendoza, Adriana Merzyn and Sierra Stennett also helped the Fillies to ride to the finals.
"I am so excited," Rosenzweig said. "This has been our dream since freshman year. It is great that it is finally happening. I think our vault and our beam saved us tonight."
Palatine freshman Jolee Waddington also had a huge night. She won the beam with a 9.40 and the floor, scoring 9.05 to become the only gymnast Thursday night to score above 9.00. Waddington was second in the all-around with a 37.125.
"I was a bit stressed out about the meet," Waddington said. "But my teammates were there to support me. I was a bit nervous because I was a freshman and I had a reputation to follow considering both my mom and my sister made it to state."
Fremd's Kacey Tokunaga was third in the all-around with a 35,975. Rolling Meadows' Caitlin Widawski was fifth with a 35.675 and Maine South's Anastasia Gritsonis was sixth with a 35.60. Fremd finished third with a 139.40 while Palatine was fourth with a 135.225.
Hersey and Barrington will join sectional winners Vernon Hills, DeKalb and Downers Grove South along with at-large teams Carmel, Lake Park and Geneva at the state finals next Friday and Saturday at Palatine.