Girls gymnastics: Glenbrook North's Alcorn sticks the landing at state, places second on bars, beam
Glenbrook North's Betsy Alcorn met the moment at the Illinois High School Association girls gymnastics state finals.
On Feb. 17-18 at Palatine High School, Alcorn's second-place finishes on both uneven parallel bars (9.4250) and balance beam (9.4750) equal the best state finish by a Glenbrook North girls gymnast, according to IHSA records. Dawn Burke placed second on balance beam in 1978.
Alcorn, who also finished 15th in all-around, was the squad's first state finalist since Carli Betman on vault in 2014, Spartans coach Julie Holmbeck said. She earned the Spartans' highest placement since Brittany Zimmerman's third-place finish on beam in 2005.
"I definitely wasn't expecting it, so it was really cool, and all my hard work is paying off, which is really nice," said Alcorn, who placed fourth on beam and tied for fifth on bars at the Stevenson sectional.
It wasn't an easy road. After Alcorn reached the state meet on beam and vault her freshman year, the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out the 2020-21 gymnastics season. Alcorn caught the virus herself during her junior season and narrowly missed qualifying for the 2022 state meet.
"This year we talked about what we needed to do, what we needed to have, and we worked on it from day one when she walked into the gym," said Holmbeck, who previously coached Betsy's older sister, Molly.
At Palatine, Alcorn made major leaps from Friday's preliminary competition to Saturday's finals.
On Friday her top score on bars was 9.4000 with a 9.3500 average that placed fifth going into Saturday. On balance beam she was lodged in a 10th-place tie with a top effort of 9.0500 and an 8.9750 average.
"I think on Friday I was still holding back a little bit to get a score that would take me to the next day," Alcorn said. "But Saturday I just had to do everything full out and not be hesitant at all, because I knew that'd be my only chance of placing on anything."
As Holmbeck said, "she nailed her routine."
Nearing season highs on both events, Alcorn scored marks of 9.4500 and 9.5000 on beam, trailing only Glenbard North's Carly Bachara with an average of 9.5750. Alcorn scored 9.4000 and 9.4500 on bars to follow Hersey's Sabrina Nemcek (9.5250).
"My handspring layout (on beam) is probably my biggest skill that I'm really worried about, and I hit it. Once I hit that first skill I was very solid on the rest of my routine because I was a little more relaxed," Alcorn said.
"My routine also was better the next day on bars. Hitting all my handstands I was better, because I was a little hesitant on the first day. I also stuck my dismount on the second day."
Joining Holmbeck to support Alcorn was assistant coach Anthony Romito and Spartans junior gymnast Izzy Gott.
"I thought it was excellent. I'm very proud of her," Holmbeck said.
A competitive gymnast since she was a first-grader at Greenbriar Elementary School in Northbrook, starting out with Northbrook Gymnastics, Alcorn will not compete in college.
She's got her club season still, with the American Academy of Gymnastics in Wheeling. As a defending Level 9 regional qualifier Alcorn has automatic entry into the state meet. She hopes to return to the regional and on to the USA Gymnastics Level 9 Eastern Championships in May. She placed seventh in her division at the 2022 Eastern Championships.
Regardless of what happens with club, Alcorn will remember sticking the landing on her high school career.
"I could really feel that they were the best routines I've done," she said.