AROUND THE CHALKBOX: Hot topics in gymnastics
Saying goodbye to Elgin/Larkin and Rich Township co-ops
By Mike Considine
One of the best episodes of the TV show "M*A*S*H,"
and my personal favorite, is titled "Sometimes You Hear the Bullet."
The plot involved a war correspondent who was a friend of the lead character,
Hawkeye. The writer was working on a book with the premise that, in war, you don't hear the bullet that kills you.
Of course, the writer takes a fatal bullet in the episode and has to
reassess. He confides this to a distraught Hawkeye on his death bed, who assures his friend that he simply needs to change
Well, I heard the bullet when a couple of once-prominent girls gymnastics
programs met their end recently.
I can't truly claim Judy Redmond or Bob Todd as close friends, but they
are two coaches whom I always looked forward to seeing and whom I greatly respected for the way they conducted themselves
and their programs. They lit up the lives of those around them in their own ways.
The realization that the Rich Township co-op and Elgin/Larkin co-op
wouldn't be around for another year wasn't truly a shock to those of us who knew that Redmond and Todd feared that it would
be their programs' fates when they finally had to stop fighting the good fight.
For years, each of them had selflessly decided to add another year to
their coaching resumes partly because of that well-grounded fear. They simply couldn't bring themselves to let their kids
down. Better that they should put their own needs on hold for a few more months.
Here's a little more insight into each, and why it's a tragedy that
their work isn't being carried forward in two areas where their athletes' gymnastics backgrounds more often than not could
be written on the proverbial postage stamp.
Todd was someone I ran into more often, especially at the Larkin Invitational
in early January. It became an annual stop on my Tour de Gymnastics.
Even though most reporters shied away from it because it was a tad long,
this one enjoyed it precisely for that reason. It featured a lip-sync contest after the meet but before the awards ceremony
that gave the competitors a chance to just be silly and have fun -- and maybe show off some moves that weren't otherwise seen
on a floor exercise mat.
Coming after a Christmas break filled with lots of hours in the gym
and few rewards, it was a welcome respite for the girls -- and maybe a few of us jaded adults.
During the days of Bethany Fitchie and Amy Kovacs, Larkin (as the team
was then known) was a 140-team and a sectional qualifier. The Royals were a force to be reckoned with at the Upstate Eight
Conference and in the postseason, even for a couple years after their standouts passed into graduation.
Todd had his well-deserved moments in the sun.
When his team's capabilities were lower, he adjusted his expectations
and worked on teaching the skills his girls hadn't had the opportunity to learn in their younger years. If that was frustrating
for him, you'd never have known it from his warm smile and the respect that was evident from his gymnasts when they interacted
Todd candidly told me a few years ago exactly what I conveyed earlier
in this piece, that he probably should have retired a while earlier but couldn't because he couldn't bear the thought that
his program would be dropped the moment he didn't sign on for another year.
That's essentially what happened on November 1.
Back then, there were reasons to be optimistic, despite what seemed
inevitable. Todd prayed for a young, energetic assistant who would be willing to succeed him. During my last year in Illinois,
2007, I talked to the owners of a new club in Elgin whose owners and coaches appreciated high school gymnastics. They planned
to be a feeder for the Elgin/Larkin program. Unfortunately, that club lost its gym to a fire and rebuilt elsewhere.
Who can say whether, if the cards had been dealt a little differently,
whether Elgin/Larkin could have ridden out Todd's decision to spend more time with his new wife this year. Perhaps the beleagured
U-46 district would have pulled the plug eventually, even if the Fitchie/Kovacs glory days were resurrected.
All that's known is that Todd did more to sustain the program than anyone
could reasonably expect, and quite a bit more.
Unfortunately, I haven't heard from Redmond or anyone else why Rich
Township doesn't have a team this season.
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Carmel builds on strong start by winning Galatte
By Bill Stone
Al Galatte Invitational at Rolling MeadowsSaturday,
a great finish with a state title in 2010, Carmel already is off to a great start this season.
“It gives us a
big motivation to come back and do it again,” Carmel sophomore Sarah Cohen-Smith said. “We knew it was coming.
We trained really hard over the summer. We’ve been working together well.”
On Saturday, it was only fitting
that the Corsairs had a great start and a great finish in winning the Al Galatte Invitational at Rolling Meadows for the second
year in a row with 72.20 points. Lake Forest placed second (68.30) and Stevenson was third (66.475).
meet's format allows each team just two gymnasts per event and every gymnast can only compete in one event.
sophomore and first-year team member Lauren Feely set the tone by winning floor exercise with the fifth of 36 routines. Carmel
closed out the meet with vaulting, where Cohen-Smith had a career-high 9.70 to win the event, followed by junior
Jen Zeller with a 9.65.
Carmel junior Kirstin Mirski won balance beam (9.30), and Lake Forest sophomore Kat
McKeon won the uneven parallel bars (9.15).
“It’s easier to stay focused on that one event but it’s
a little strange not to do all four of them. (Going fifth) it’s good to get it kind of out of the way and then your
meet’s over,” Feely said. “We work hard so eventually it’s going to pay off. As long as we keep working
hard, keep focused, it seems like it’s within our reach (of winning state again).”
The Corsairs return six
members from last year’s state lineup – Kristin Mirski, Zeller, Cohen-Smith, senior Dani Clement, junior Lauren
Bowles and sophomore Kari Osowski. They graduated all-stater Amber Mirski and Lauren Pytel, but they’ve picked up Feely
and junior Anna Brandmeier. Osowski (8.8) and Brandmeier (8.5) were second and fourth on uneven parallel bars.
actually watched her future teammates at last year’s Galatte Invite, and she was there at the state meet to see the
championship success and celebration. She and Zeller train at Ultimate Gymnastics in Gurnee.
to help out the team. They won last year and it sounded fun, so I joined,” Feely said. “Going into high school,
I didn’t want to do it my first year (at) a new school. I had a feeling I would do it my sophomore year. It’s
been really fun. All of the girls have been really nice.”
While Carmel scored an impressive 149.20 in its season-opening
triangular victory Nov. 23 at Vernon Hills, Feely posted 9.5s on vault and uneven bars. She said Saturday’s
floor was her best routine so far. It featured a double back flip on her first pass, a front handspring, front full, punch
pike on the second and a round of/flip flop/double-full twist on the third.
“It was OK. There’s room for
improvement,” Feely said. “I’m just glad I stayed on my feet because in club you warm up (your apparatus)
and then you compete.You’re really cold on there. It’s kind of shocking.”
Cohen-Smith enjoyed a breakthrough
as well. Formerly throwing tucked Yurchenkos, Saturday marked the first time she attempted a piked Yurchenko in a meet, and
she did it for both of her attempts.
“I was excited. My team was jumping up and it was a lot of fun,”
Cohen-Smith said. “I was anxious. Jen and I had a pep talk before the event. It was a lot of fun, but we were anxious
(going last, saying), 'We want to get this over with.’ ”
72.20, 2. Lake Forest 68.30, 3. Stevenson 66.475, 4. Schaumburg 65.75, 5T. Prospect and Deerfield 65.40, 7. Lincoln-Way co-operator
64.55, 8. Barrington 64.525, 9. Fremd JV 64.525, 10. Rolling Meadows 63.625, 11. Maine South 62.80, 12T. Oak Park-River Forest
and Conant 61.20, 14. Glenbrook North 61.20, 15. Elk Grove 58.60, 16. Hoffman Estates 53.60, 17. Lake Park 48.55, 18. Buffalo
Vaulting: 1. Sarah Cohen-Smith (Car) 9.7, 2. Jennifer Zeller (Car) 9.65, 3. Ali Castriano (Stev) 6.5, 4. Lexi
Marsella (Bar) 9.4, 5. Brie Bibel (Con) 9.3; Uneven parallel bars: 1. Katherine McKeon (LF) 9.15, 2. Kari Osowski (Car) 8.8,
3. Mary Smaga (Fmd) 8.6, 4. Anna Brandmeier (Car) 8.5, 5T. Lauren Cerza (RM), Morgan Wilkes (OPRF), Emily Hennessy (EG) and
Brook Morgan (Bar) 8.3; Balance beam: 1. Kristin Mirski (Car) 9.3, 2. Brooke Shimon (Sch) 8.9, 3. Carson Ram (Deer) 8.65,
4. Meggie Kania (Pros) 8.6, 5. Katie Meier (LF) 8.45; Floor exercise: 1. Lauren Feely (Car) 9.6, 2. Kaitlyn Neiheisel (LW)
9.4, 3. Theresa Wojton (Stev) 9.15, 4. Christine Stitcher (Deer) 9.05, 5. Kylie Carlson (LF) 9.0
Libertyville's Herchenbach, Fremd enjoy Big Purple success
By Bill Stone
Al Galatte Invitational at Rolling MeadowsSaturday,
senior Leah Herchenbach should have been happy to start Saturday’s Mike Williams Big Purple Inviational on the uneven
parallel bars, her first event.
Unfortunately, she suffered a fall during her routine. It was discovered later during
the meet that the bars actually had been installed backwards.
“We kind of all thought something was wrong, but
no one really checked until Fremd went (in the third rotation),” Herchenbach said. “I was a little bit upset.
I didn’t know at the time for sure that they were upside down. After I fell I was just like, ‘All right, I’ve
just got to get up and make (balance) beam and everything really strong because I have to make up for it.' It wasn’t
really something to bring me down. It was more to motivate me.”
Herchenbach responded with a sparkling first-place
routine on beam and went on to win the all-around title at the annual 12-team invite at Downers Grove North. She also helped
the Wildcats take second to Fremd (103.75 to 103.00) with Lyons Township (101.425) third.
The Vikings won their 18th
consecutive Big Purple team championship.
of the usual five gymnasts per event with the top four scores accounting for the team total, the invite allows just four entries
and the top three scores count. Another element that makes the meet tough is the presence of two state-level judges per event.
senior Maegan Wochinski took second in all-around (33.85) and captured beam (9.025). Fremd swept the other three titles. Freshman
Christine Jensen took vaulting (9.25), sophomore Emily Pinderski won uneven parallel bars (8.70) and Wochinski prevailed in
floor exercise (9.20).
contnued her early success this season by winning all-around (35.025). She broke the the 37.00 barrier in the Wildcats’
previous two duals.
“It just shows everybody that you need to work really hard, (because) those will be the state
judges and you want to impress them,” Herchenbach said. “It was frustrating because the scores were a lot lower
(than the duals), but it was consistent. It worked out. I wasn’t expecting to get first, though, not at all. But I’m
happy. And I stuck my beam routine finally.”
An individual state qualifier the past two years, Herchenbach hopes
more joy as the season winds down. She'd like to reach the state event finals.
“That’s really a big goal
for me. Those last two meets were the first times I’ve ever gotten 37s so I’m hoping to do that a lot more,”
Herchenbach said. “I added a couple of new things, but those are still my watered down routines, so I still have a lot
more to come. I just need to make it more consistent in practice and I’ll add (difficulty) later in the season.”
and Pinderski displayed Fremd’s depth in winning their first individual invite titles. Jensen was the invite’s
first competitor, leading the Vikings’ vault rotation. Pinderski was Fremd's second competitor on uneven bars.
the only freshman in another powerful Fremd lineup, Jensen landed a piked Yurchenko vault that she’s acquired since
doing twisted handspring fulls last season for the Palatine Gymnastics Club.
“I’ve been working on them
for a while and I wanted to compete them in club, but never really got them good enough. Then for high school I prepared myself
enough to,” Jensen said. “I was kind of actually a little discouraged before the meet because I wasn’t having
great warmups and I wasn’t sure how it was going to go.”
A key uneven bars contributor, Pinderski was followed,
as usual, by two outstanding seniors. However, Alyssia Van Duch (8.25) fell once and Wochinski (7.25) counted three falls,
including those on her recently inserted Jaeger and dismount. That left Pinderski's score to carry the team.
few things that I need to practice, but otherwise I thought it was pretty good. There’s always room for improvement,
but (winning is) a really good feeling, I guess,” Pinderski said. “I love bars. I just love swinging and stuff.
It’s all about your strength. (Our bars lineup is) definitely motivation. You love when everybody does well so you want
to do well too to just keep everybody’s sprits up and keep the thing going.”
Fremd junior Stephanie
Uhrich will be out about a month with a bone chip in her foot suffered during warmups in Tuesday’s season opener against
South Elgin/Bartlett/Streamwood co-op and Rolling Meadows.
Libertyville posted its highest
Big Purple finish since taking second in 1998, but also is hurting. Junior all-arounder Sarah Chaitoff broke her leg last
week and was lost for the season. She underwent surgery Friday. Junior Lindsay Schweitzer also has been battling injuries,
but still took second on beam (8.925).
“We’ve got three new freshmen that have potential and are good so
we’re hoping to make up with our loss of Sarah,” Herchenbach said. “It’s very sad. But before we go
(on events) we’re always like, ‘Do it for Sarah.’ That’s like our motivation.”
1. Fremd 103.75, 2. Libertyville 103.00, 3. Lyons Township 101.425, 4. Oswego co-op 96.925, 5. Naperville Central
95.55, 6. Downers Grove South 95.275, 7. Hersey 93.975, 8. Naperville North 93.65, 9. Glenbard East 93.60, 10. Downers Grove
North 92.90, 11. Sandburg/Stagg co-op 92.275, 12. Homewood-Flossmoor 90.375
Top-five individual results
1. Leah Herchenbach (Lib) 35.025, 2. Maegan Wochinski (Fmd) 33.85, 3. Maren Craig (LT) 33.725, 4. Jenna Dunsing (Lib) 33.325,
5. Annie Johnson (Her) 33.275; Vault: 1. Christine Jensen (Fmd) 9.25, 2. Kyla Price (O) 9.225, 3. Clare Bonsitalli (LT) 9.1,
4T. Sarah Mussallem (Sand), Stephanie Gallo (Fmd) and Anna Johnson (Fmd) 9.025; Uneven parallel bars: 1. Emily Pinderski (Fmd)
8.75, 2. Carolyn Cozza (LT) 8.45, 3T. Alyssia Van Duch (Fmd) and Bonistalli 8.275, 5T. Lindsay Schwietzer (Lib) and Johnson
8.25; Balance beam: 1. Herchenbach 9.025, 2. Schweitzer 8.925, 3T. Logan Hassler (NC) and Craig 8.55, 5. Wochinski 8.475;
Floor exercise: 1. Wochinski 9.2, 2. Cozza 9.125, 3T. Elizabeth Uhrich (Fmd) and Gallo 9.025, 5. Sam Shimkus (DGS) 8.975
Deerfield's Stitcher off to strong start vs. Maine South
By Bill Stone
Things fall into place for Fremd, Wochinski in opener
By Bill Stone
At Fremd 143.95, South Elgin/Bartlett/Streamwood co-op
130.90, Rolling Meadows 128.10
Tuesday, Nov. 30
Fremd senior Maegan Wochinski opened her fourth varsity season Tuesday with a new outlook and a new trick
for the uneven parallel bars.
Wochinski didn't just execute her Jaeger, but she earned a first-place 9.2 that helped the Vikings score 143.95 points
and defeat visiting South Elgin/Bartlett/Streamwood co-op (130.90) and Rolling Meadows (128.10) in Palatine. Elgin senior
Ashley Horne also competed as an individual and had five top-five finishes.
"I'm just happy I didn't fall on that (Jaeger)," said Wochinski, who also won all-around (36.25) and vault (9.4) with
a pike Yurchenko.
"That's my first time competing (the Jaeger). I've been working them for two years. I wasn't sure if I was ready
and since this was just a dual meet, I thought I would throw it. And I caught it, so I'm doing it at the invite on Saturday
now (at Downers Grove North)."
Fremd's debut shows its not only in contention for a remarkable 19th consecutive trip as a team to the state meet
but that it might be able to improve upon last year's third-place state trophy.
Senior Kelly Onesto won balance beam (9.5) with sophomore Stephanie Gallo and freshman Christine Jensen tying for
second (9.1) and Wochinski fifth (9.0).
Gallo was second as Fremd's other all-arounder (36.10). Gallo (9.1), Jensen (8.9) and sophomore Emily Pinderski
(8.8) went 2-3-4 on uneven bars, Jensen (9.3) tied for second and Gallo (9.2) tied for fifth on vault, and junior Elizabeth
Uhrich (8.8), Gallo (8.7) and Wochinski (8.65) went 3-4-5 on floor.
About the only disappointment was junior Stephanie Uhrich turned her ankle during vault warmups and was scratched
from the lineup.
"One of the benchmarks is going over 140 for the first meet, and we almost went 144, which is really impressive.
We just have to hope Steph is OK," Fremd coach Jim Guest said.
"We want to get a meet under our belts, see where we're at and then build off of that, try to get better. That's
really how I approach any season, no matter what level team I have. As we go through, we kind of see what we're capable of
and then yadda, yadda, yadda (with specific goals). It's a journey. We're not going to get to that end result in November,
but the work we put forth in November will help us to a positive finish."
Wochinski is among six returnees from last year's state lineup and qualified individually in all-around, vault and
beam. This season, she also is a co-captain with senior Alyssia Van Duch, and they're determined to keep a large group of
talented underclassmen positive, consistent and having fun.
"I didn't think it would (feel different being a senior), but I just feel higher. It just feels good," Wochinski
said. "I feel like I'm more confident because I am one of the captains this year so I do have a bigger role. Even if something
goes wrong, I can't let it get to me. Since I'm the older one, I have to set an example for (the underclassmen). Even if I
fall, I can't get upset about it."
Gallo and Jensen, a Level 9 club gymnast, made impressive high-school debuts. Gallo missed all of her freshman
season with a dislocated elbow that happened prior to last preseason.
In last year's opener, Anna Johnson broke her left ankle competing on vault and missed the rest of the season. The
sophomore returned to action on floor Tuesday and scored an 8.4.
Although she will sit out the start of the season, talented sophomore all-arounder Shannon Lemajeur on her way
back to competition form after missing the 2010 postseason with knee surgery for a torn ACL.
"We have some inexperience in terms of meet readiness for high school, but at the same time our seniors, (Wochinski,
Van Duch and Onesto) really stepped up and did a great job on the events that they were called upon," Guest said. "We have
a nice little balance of kids that have experience on the varsity level and some individuals that haven't competed a lot for
us but are really getting their feet wet."
Overcoming the adversity they have could make Wochinski and the Vikings even tougher when the postseason rolls around.
"It sets our confidence really high because we knew we can get through basically anything," Wochinski said. "(Our
goals are) high, but you can't set them too high because it is the beginning of the season and you'll never know what happens.
But we're happy (so far). We're healthy."
South Elgin/Bartlett/Streamwood co-op
South Elgin/Bartlett/Streamwood co-op senior Taeopae Wetterman knows things look different this season.
At least for Tuesday's season opener at Fremd, they sounded the same.
The team lost 10 seniors to graduation, but three of them made the trip to Palatine, and it made a difference for
Wetterman on vault. She landed her Yurchenko tuck for a second-place 9.3.
"I know for me vault's really tough and I need them yelling. Just knowing that they're there, cheering me on, I was
able to go and I felt really good," Wetterman said.
"Actually it means a lot (that they came). They're there cheering for you. They've been there for the last couple
SEBS co-op enjoyed many highlights in scoring 130.90 points to finish behind host Fremd (143.95) while beating Rolling
Wetterman later won floor exercise (8.95) and was part of a strong all-around trio with freshman Brenna Lehnus (33.55)
and senior Olivia Tabor (33.35) that finished 4-5-6. Elgin senior Ashley Horne, who accompained the team but competes as an
individual, was third in all-around (35.45) and a top-five finisher in three events.
Horne was second on floor (8.85) and beam (9.1) with Tabor sixth (8.4). Lenhus tied for fifth on vault (9.2), and Tabor
and Horne tied for fifth on uneven bars (8.6) behind four Fremd gymnasts.
Wetterman and Tabor are this season's co-captains.
"(Our focus) is our spirit, get that up and get involved," Tabor said. "(My goals are) actually to gain a lot of skills
because I'm not that great and just to get better and the team more involved because we lost a lot of seniors."
Among other newcomers, freshman Samantha Maniago was an all-arounder and junior projected all-arounder Brittney McCauley
competed on everything but beam. Injured sophomore Liz DeLeon also should help as an all-arounder.
"We definitley have a lot of talent and a lot of potential, but today, since it's early in the season, we're not quite
putting all of our big tricks out there. And we also had a couple of people sick," SEBS co-op coach Amy August said.
"Olivia had a really good beam routine. Taeopae's floor routine was really, really good. We had a few mistakes here
and there, lots of falls, especially on beam, but for the first meet that's kind of expected."
Tabor is getting used to competing as an all-arounder this season after being part of the 2010 regional and sectional
lineup on vault and floor. Surprisingly, her best routine Tuesday probably was on beam.
"I haven't competed beam in two seasons. I was really surprised. I was happy with it," Tabor said. "I worked all summer,
not so much on beam, but bars and floor."
Wetterman was a 2010 individual sectional qualifier in all-around, beam and floor.
"A few of my events are kind of rough around the edges but I just keep working in the gym and hopefully I can get
everything back," Wetterman said.
Horne cannot practice simultaneously with the SEBS athletes, but they're adopted her as a "teammate." Horne had
been a member of the Elgin-Larkin co-op team that was discontinued this season. Since August teaches part-time at Elgin,
she also serves as Horne's official school representitive coach.
In other words, Horne also will be hearing plenty of encouragement whenever she competes this season.
"I think it's good for her because competing by yourself is never an easy thing," Wetterman said. "Having all of
us to back her up and support her, I think, that's really going to help her. She's also a senior so I think it's a good end."
Rolling Meadows freshman Rachel Andersen's first high school meet Tuesday came with plenty of adjustments.
Her new varsity teammates include her older sister, senior Emily Anderson.
"When practice comes, she's more of a teammate but at home she's more of a sister," Rachel said. "Sometimes it's kind
of nervewracking, but I kind of like it. We're cheering each other on."
Rachel Anderson is one of the few additions to the Mustangs' veteran lineup. In Tuesday's season opener, the
Mustangs scored 128.10 points to finish behind host Fremd (143.95) and South Elgin/Bartlett/Streamwood co-op (130.90). Elgin
senior Ashley Horne, part of last year's Elgin/Larkin co-op team that was discontinued, also competed individually and had
four top-five finishes.
"All around, up and down, I think we're looking pretty good. This is going to be a pretty good year for us," Rolling
Meadows coach Mike Costa said. "Rachel is a freshman. Emily is a senior. That one goes, I get this one back (next year) so
it starts all over again. The saga continues."
Rachel Andersen (31.50) and Emily Andersen (31.00) were all-arounders along with junior Lauren Cerza (32.75), another
key returnee from last season.
Rachel Andersen had a team-high 8.3 on balance beam to tie for seventh place, and Emily Andersen's 8.6 on vault tied
for ninth with senior teammates Becky Smith and Jill Pfisterer.
Smith had the highest individual finish, an 8.55 on floor exercise for sixth. Cerza had the top score on the uneven
parallel bars (8.1, 9th place).
"We have four returning people and a new person on varsity who just moved up (sophomore Sarah Bohac) and then
we have Rachel, which is good. I think we can do better than last year," Emily Andersen said.
"(Rachel has) competed in USAG before so she kind of knows how to compete. It was just interesting to see how she
handles meets and pressure. It's just fun to cheer each other on and support each other."
Costa certainly has confidence in the freshman. Cerza was the team's last performers on three of the events. Rachel
Andersen performed last on beam and responded.
"I stuck my beam routine, which is pretty good for me," Rachel said.
"(My first meet went) not too bad. I expected
not to be doing the best. It could have been worse. I want to get some new skills on each event so then my score can go up.
I know I can get them."
The sisters may form a beam bond by the end of the season because Emily believes that event could be her best chance
at reaching state. Emily qualified for sectionals last year in all-around and vault.
"I think everyone on varsity cane make it to sectionals, maybe not as a team, but individually," Emily said. "I think
I've definitely stepped up as a leader and showed the freshmen what to do and how it all works. I like it because it takes
my mind off of my events. I can really get nervous when I think about them a lot."
Besides Rachel Andersen, Cerza has plenty of room to grow as she recovers from a back injury suffered in
the early fall. Cerza used more conservative routines on uneven bars and floor Tuesday.
"In two or three weeks, she should be full force back to about 95 percent," Costa said. "If we get Lauren back up around
a 34, 35.00 (all-around total), we may even push a 36.00 out of her, if we're lucky, by the end of the year. (And) I'm hoping
that Rachel can be in the 34s It's the first meet. We've still got a lot of skills that we're working on and developing that
we're going to put in for both of those kids."
Santoro, R-B can relax after strong start against Morton
By Bill Stone
At Riverside-Brookfield 108.60, Morton 100.20
Junior Kristen Santoro often is a calming influence for her Riverside-Brookfield teammates but that was difficult even
for her to do Monday.
After all, it was the season opener.
"I'm really nervous. I guess I hide it well
because I look really calm when I'm on the (balance) beam and stuff," Santoro said. "I think just the first meet everybody's
really nervous, but then after a while we get used to it."
Santoro and the Bulldogs still enjoyed a solid start. Santoro
responded with first place on beam and three other top-five finishes, and R-B topped visiting Morton 108.60 to 100.20.
While Morton junior and returning sectional qualifier Andie Alanis won all-around (29.45), vault (8.6), floor exercise
(7.4) and the uneven parallel bars (6.85), Santoro scored 7.8 on beam. R-B sophomore all-arounder Ariel Moon was a top-three
finisher in all five events.
"This is our first meet and we're pretty much at the same level that we were at the end of last year. (And) I think we
have room for improvement, which is good," Santoro said. "I thought it went really well (as a team). I think we did well under
pressure so that's good. I did well, which I'm happy about, and we won so I'm guessing we did pretty well."
marked the debut of new R-B head coach Tom Sisulak, but both teams returned several gymnasts with previous varsity experience.
R-B graduated just one senior and returns all seven underclassmen who competed at last year's regional, comprising 18 of the
Santoro and Moon both were all-arounders at the regional, where R-B scored 113.10. On Monday, Moon (28.00) and Santoro
(27.95) went 2-3 in all-around, and Moon also was second on beam (6.8) and third on vault (8.2), floor (7.0) and uneven bars
(6.0). Also second for the Bulldogs were senior Jackie LaManna (6.55 on uneven bars) and sophomore Rachel Decosola (8.3 on
The Bulldogs beat their 105.40 opener from last season, and that was even with concerns of this season's new
scoring system and having a meet right after Thanksgiving break. Sisulak said he made an unsuccessful attempt at combining
Monday's meet with Wednesday's home dual against Geneva.
"I was hoping we were going to (score) in the 90s and then
I figured we might even be able to make it to 100 if things went well. (We scored) a 108, so that was extra pleasing," Sisulak
said. "We started where we ended last year, so that's even better to hear."
Alanis also is trying to build upon last
year's finish. She advanced to the 2010 Hinsdale Central Sectional in all-around, beam and floor -- one of the few Mustangs
to even reach sectionals in recent memory.
Morton returns eight gymansts from regionals, two of them seniors, who combined for 19 routines. That also includes sophomore
all-arounder Rachel Kelly, who was second in floor (7.2) and third on beam (6.7) Monday. The Mustangs scored 107.20 in the
season-opening loss to Fenton (123.05) Nov. 22, the first day of interscholastic competition.
"(Reaching sectionals) helped a lot. I really think that all I need is motivation and as long as I have my motivation,
I know I can do anything," Alanis said. "(I'm trying) pretty much to make my skills harder and the skills I already have,
to try to make them better, stronger."
Alanis would especially like to qualify for state on beam, where she suffered three falls Monday. She has been working
in practice to upgrade her vault to a tuck Yurchenko.
"I have no doubt that she can make it to state, but not unless she starts going about things more aggressively," Morton
coach Lynette Polchan said. "She can be better than last year, but she just has to keep working harder. She (sometimes) lets
her emotions get in the way."
Santoro got better as the meet progressed. She had a solid beam routine and followed that with one of her best floor
performances. She added and executed a twist to her back tuck on floor after she tried it successfully in warmups.
"I think floor (is my best event) because I get a lot of adrenaline and I usually do well under pressure," Santoro said.
Being at home might have helped. For home meets, floor routines remain in the small practice gym, unable to be seen while
the Mustangs competed on beam. Beam, vault and uneven bars are performed in an adjoining gym separated by a wall.
"I'm so much more comfortable here than at other places because I've grown up in this gym. I'm really used to it," Santoro
She and the Bulldogs should continue to improve. Even after the team received congratulations, assistant coach Carrie
Kozak discussed Santoro getting new -- and stronger -- floor and beam routines.
"Kristen, I thought, did a fantastic job tonight," Sisulak said. "I kind of cornered her in the hall before the meet
and said, 'If you can get the other ladies and (Kozak) relaxed (it would help our team).' She's so collected and calm."
At Riverside-Brookfield 108.60, Morton 100.20
Top 5 finishers
All-around: 1. Andie
Alanis (M) 29.45, 2. Ariel Moon (RB) 28.00, 3. Kristen Santoro (RB) 27.95, 4. Rachel Decosola (RB) 26.20, 5. Rachel Kelly
Vaulting: 1. Alanis 8.6, 2. Decosola 8.3,
3. Moon 8.2, 4. Gabby Antos (M) 8.1, 5. Heather Flanagan (M) 8.0.
parallel bars: 1. Alanis 6.85, 2. Jackie LaManna (RB) 6.55, 3. Moon 6.0, 4. Santoro 5.7, 5. Ellie Hutcheson
Balance beam: 1. Santoro 7.8, 2. Moon 6.8,
3. Kelly 6.7, 4. Alanis 6.6, 5T. Kaitlynn Markowski (RB) and Decosola 6.5.
Floor exercise: 1. Alanis 7.4,
2. Kelly 7.2, 3. Moon 7.0, 4. Decosola 6.9, 5. Santoro 6.85.
At Libertyville 142.90, Prairie Ridge/District 155 co-op 132.00
Tuesday, Nov. 23
All-around: 1. Leah Herchenbach (L) 37.05; 2. Lindsay Schweitzer (L) 36.00; 3. Jenna Dunsing (L) 35.05;
4. Sarah Chaitoff (L) 34.10; 5. Sarah Kramer (PR) 34.00.
Jenny Covers (PR) 9.8; 2. Nicole Novak (PR) 9.65; 3. Herchenbach (L) 9.2; 4. Schweitzer (L) 9.05; 5. Dunsing (L) 8.95.
Uneven parallel bars: 1. Herchenbach 9.1; 2. Danielle Dyra (PR) 8.95; 3T. Dunsing (L)
and Kramer (PR) 8.85; 5. Schweitzer (L) 8.7.
Balance beam: 1. Herchenbach (L) 9.2; 2. Chaitoff (L) 9.1; 3. Schweitzer
(L) 8.95; 4. Dunsing (L) 8.2; 5. Kramer (PR) 8.1.
Floor exercise: 1. Herchenbach (L) 9.55; 2. Schweitzer
(L) 9.3; 3. Dunsing (L) 9.05; 4. Colleen Bransley (PR) 8.7; 5. Chaitoff (L) 8.6.
RESULTS BY TEAM
NOTE: 142.90 is Libertyville's highest season-opening score since at least 2005-6.
All-around: Leah Herchenbach 37.05, Lindsay Schweitzer 36.00, Jenna Dunsing 35.05, Sarah Chaitoff
Vaulting (35.80): Tori Metcalf 8.6; Chaitoff 8.6; Dunsing 8.95; Schweitzer 9.05; Herchenbach 9.2.
Uneven parallel bars (35.15): Chaitoff 7.8; Mariah Lee 8.5; Schweitzer 8.7; Dunsing 8.85; Herchenbach
Balance beam (35.45): Metcalf 8.05; Chaitoff 9.1; Dunsing 8.2; Schweitzer 8.95; Herchenbach 9.2.
exercise (36.50): Lee 8.1; Chaitoff 8.6; Dunsing 9.05; Schweitzer 9.3; Herchenbach 9.55.
Prairie Ridge/District 155 co-op (132.00)
All-around: Sarah Kramer 34.00.
Vaulting (36.65): Sarah Pecoraro 8.5; Brittany
Potts 8.55; Kramer 8.65; Nicole Novak 9.65; Jenny Covers 9.8.
Uneven parallel bars (30.45): Veronica Krotser
5.9; Colleen Bransley 6.75; Kramer 8.85; Danielle Dyra 8.95.
Balance beam (31.15): Rachel Kegebein 6.75;
Pecoraro 7.85; Bransley 7.25; Kramer 8.1; Potts 7.95.
Floor exercise (33.75): Kegebein 8.25; Pecoraro
7.75; Bransley 8.7; Kramer 8.4; Potts 8.4.
CLICK ON PHOTO BELOW TO SEE IT FULL-SIZED
|A Stevenson athlete competes on balance beam in 2009
A question-and-answer session with the state's boys and girls gymnastics
By Mike Considine
GETTING TO KNOW: Glen Reimers, Naperville Central boys and girls
SGS: I recently discovered that you spent a year as an assistant
coach at the University of Illinois in the 1980s. How did that come about and what did you learn from the experience?
Reimers: To answer this question I will have to go back a couple of years before
I was finishing up my senior year at Mundelein High School,’76-’77,
and had an unbelievable successful year. I was asked by my head coach, Bob Bohl, if I wanted to help out in his evening acrotot
program. I accepted, but told him I really didn’t know much. I was paired up with another instructor whom I can’t
remember the name. I did that until the summer where I went off to Wyoming Technical Institute in Laramie, Wyoming to become
a diesel mechanic. The schooling was 8 hours a day 5 days a week. While there I continued to miss gymnastics, so I went over
to Wyoming School of Gymnastics and asked the owner, Raleigh Wilson, if I could work out. He said I could, if I would help
out with the boys who would come in the morning. So I did that on Monday’s and Wednesday’s from 6 a.m. to 7:30
a.m. and then went to my classes. I graduated a diesel mechanic 6 months later.
After I graduated I went back to Mundelein and found a job at International
Harvester and worked there roughly 2 months. While working there I went back to Mundelein High School and again worked for
Coach Bohl in the developmental program. Needless to say I wasn’t cut out to be a diesel mechanic. I left that job and
started looking for another, and went to the high school and asked if they needed any help with the high school program. So
I volunteered my time to help with the girls team under the direction of Barb Adornetto (who is now Barb Hartwig). Barb also
introduced me to The Fighting Illini summer gymnastics camp where I was an instructor from ’78-’95. I will have
to say I learned how to teach and spot from two of the best in the state at that time: Frank Freeman and Don Carney. There
are others who helped forward my career; Gail Anna Jensen, Alana “Dez” Dezris, Bev Mackes and Peter and Mary Jansson
… just to name a few. Bev Mackes was the head of Illinois program during that time.
I came back from that first camp in ’78 excited and carrying a wealth
of knowledge. At Mundelein in ‘79, girls season was switched from spring to winter. We made it to state with some individuals
and, unfortunately, I was not allowed to be on the state floor which devastated me. It was then that Barb Adornetto asked
if this is what I wanted to do and I said yes. She then told me that I needed to go back to school to become a teacher. So
that spring I enrolled at a junior college. I went to the Illini Summer Camp and continued to work with Bev Mackes and others.
She approached me and asked if I wanted to be an assistant the following year and finish my education there. Of course I jumped
at the opportunity and that’s how I was an assistant coach at the University of Illinois.
SGS: If I remember correctly, the first high school job you had was
as an assistant at Hinsdale Central. If so, what did you take away from being involved in the state's most successful boys
program? Did it become a model for what you wanted to achieve as a head coach?
Reimers: I actually did my student teaching there under Neil Krupicka and volunteered
during the boys' season. I actually was an assistant at Wheaton Central under Dianne Gallione (now Dianne Douville). At that
point in time Neil taught me different drills and techniques for working with the boys that I hadn’t learned from Bob
Bohl or my still rings coach Jim “Jet” Jackson. Neil taught me more on the other events…P-bars, H-bar, and
Pommel Horse. Unfortunately, my brained turned “off” when it came to pommel horse and it still is a thorn in my
side today. What Neil taught me was that everything has a positive side. He was always positive on what the outcome was. That
wasn’t any more evident than at the ’96 girls state meet where he beat us by tenths of a point. It was a true
competitive battle between the student and teacher. He had nothing but praise for our team. While he stated he was nervous
he was glad it was between us and not some other team. This was indeed sportsmanship at its best.
Continued on sample page 2. Click here:
INSIDE THE NUMBERS:
Ruminations on Carmel's 149.20
By Mike Considine
Wednesday, Nov. 24
So, by now you've seen that Carmel scored 149.20 in its first meet Tuesday, winning a triangular at Vernon Hills against
the Cougars and Wheeling.
Of course, you know that's an incredible score for any team in its first meet of the season.
You may be wondering, though, just how good is a 149.20 for Carmel. After all, the Corsairs are the defending state champion,
so the standards are high.
We're here to help, to the degree that we can.
First of all, it's a higher score than Carmel posted in winning the 2009-10 state title. That was a 147.20. It's also
more than Carmel scored in winning its first two titles under Norb Bendixen, those being 148.85 in 1992 and 147.95.
But, if you've scoured the SGS website for very long, you know it isn't a school record.
A look at the final 2009-10 state rankings by season-high scores reveals that Carmel put up a 149.60 last Jan. 21 in
a loaded triangular against fellow state qualifier Prairie Ridge/District 155 co-op and host Barrington in which
all three teams nearly scored 140 or higher (Barrington missed by just .1).
Hmmmm. There's something about Carmel and triangulars. But that's a topic for another time.
Not to get too far ahead of ourselves, we're not 100 percent sure that the 149.60 was a school record. We'll have
to get back to you on that (or maybe you'll set us straight: email@example.com
) but we feel safe saying the odds are good that it was. (Although if the 1992 team could score 148.85 in front of four
judges at state, it's certainly possible it could have topped 149.60 earlier in the year).
What we do know for sure is that the current 149.20 is higher than Carmel scored in 2008-9 (148.30) or 2007-8 (146.60). Unfortunately,
the season-high scores for 2006-7 were lost in website shift, but the best available evidence indicates that the 149.20
wasn't in jeopardy. Carmel's best in 2005-6 was close at 149.05. In 2004-5, it was 148.70. In 2003-4, the top
score was 144.275.
(Before that, we're in stats-guru Rick Kelleher's territory and I don't have his records yet ... (because I goofed
So that leads us back to last year. And the meet-by-meet results tell us (as do the Regional results: Stevenson
Sectional) that the Corsairs' second-highest score was 147.875 at the Carmel Regional.
So, believe us when we say that we think the 149.20 just might be the second-highest score in school history. Maybe.
Possibly. Ummmm ... well, we're not sure.
Still, we're here to tell you that was an awfully good debut and it's going to make the other contenders work a little
bit harder in the next couple of weeks. But you knew that.
One last little bit. How many teams scored 149.20 or higher in the last three years? Only Carmel last year. Three teams
in 2008-9. Two teams in 2007-8. So, that's pretty good.
CLICK ON PHOTO BELOW TO SEE IT FULL-SIZED
|GIRLS GYMNASTICS SEASON STARTS MONDAY
|Awards stand at last year's Lake County Meet
2009-10 STATE MEET IN REVIEW
Corsairs nail down title in highly competitive finals
By Bill Stone
Carmel ended a long wait at the 2010 state gymnastics meet by winning its first state team title since 1993.
Much of the focus this season could be on repeating since several underclassmen were among many of last year's
top performances. While 2010 state all-around champion Kim Gotlund of Warren (38.275) graduated, five of the next six finishers
Prairie Ridge/District 155 co-op junior Jenny Covers became her program's first state champion on floor exercise
(9.625) and also won vault (9.8) for the second year in a row. Covers also was third in all-around (37.675) after winning
the 2009 title.
Stevenson sophomore Ali Castriano won the state balance beam title (9.65) after tying
for second in 2009. Castriano also was fourth in all-around (37.65) and was all-state on vault (5th, 9.65).
Addison Trail junior Alyssa Cruz was second in all-around (37.875) and reached the finals on three events
after posting the state's highest score in sectional competition (38.225).
The Corsairs (147.25 points) graduated Amber Mirski (6th in all-around), but sophomores
Kirstin Mirski and Jen Zeller were event finalists.
Lyons Township (146.775) and Fremd (145.925) were second and third with Prairie Ridge/District 155 co-op (145.825)
a close fourth. Glenbard West (145.65), Hinsdale
Central (144.025), Glenbard North (143.95) and Lake Forest (143.25) were fifth through eighth.
Carmel and LT made their fourth state team appearances, Hinsdale Central and Glenbard North their second in a
row and Fremd its 18th straight. Lake Forest qualified for the first time since 1985.
Individually, Carmel's Kristin Mirski was sixth in all-around (37.425), just 0.125 ahead of seventh-place Amber,
and all-state on floor (3rd) and beam (4th).
LT's Carolyn Cozza (5th on vault) and Simone Bunsen were event finalists as juniors. Graduated Caitin Golota (5th
on bars) was Fremd's lone event finalist. Prairie Ridge/District 155 co-op juniors Molly Sandquist (5th on beam) and Taylor
Weber (5th on floor) also earned all-state honors.
Lake Forest's Kylie Carlson was second on floor (9.6) and the lone freshman among last year's top 10 all-arounders,
taking seventh (37.30). Junior Ofelia Carmichael also reached the finals on vault for the Foresters.
Hinsdale Central sophomore Kristen Grilli took second on bars (9.525) -- the highest individual finish in program
history -- and was fourth on vault and 10th in all-around (37.05).
Glenbard West graduated senior beam finalist Sarah Udelhofen but the rest of its state lineup was underclassmen,
including floor finalists Becky Mladucky and Missy Guzman.
Other underclassmen who were event finalists were Schaumburg sophomore Ashley Miller (uneven bars) and Lincoln-Way co-op sophomore
Kaitlyn Neiheisel (beam).
Bunsen burning bright for Lyons Township
By Bill Stone
Dancing for the stars:
Panthers' first state meet appearance since '80s inspires coach's dance
By Mike Considine
Hinsdale Central christens Krupicka Invitational
By Bill Stone
York boys send Rich Larsen out in style with state title
By Mike Considine
In the Lions' den: LT prepares for 2007 season
By Bill Stone
Geneva ready for first season as team
By Mike Considine
Click here for sample page 2