Michael Meyer Candy Cane Invitational

At Hersey

Dec. 11


 Quinn fits in quickly with deep Glenbard North


 Glenbard North junior and its first-year high school gymnast Amanda Quinn already are off to a great start.
Quinn believes the best part of her success is that she gets to share it.
"My team is awesome. They all do really good and they all work really hard," Quinn said. "I love working with them. I feel like we can go to state this year and do well so I really hope we do."
On Saturday, it mostly was like old times for the Panthers. Last year's seventh-place finisher at the state meet won Hersey's Michael Meyer Memorial Candy Cane Invitational for the fifth year in a row with 142.60 points.
St. Charles co-op (133.675) and the host Huskies (129.125) were second and third in the 12-team invite that allows just four competitors per event with all scores going toward the team total.
Quinn won all-around (37.05) by just 0.025 over Vernon Hills sophomore and first-year high-school gymnast Alli Tran and also captured vault (9.4) and the uneven parallel bars (9.6).
Glenbard North senior Karli Gaines won floor exercise (9.5) and senior Christina Rini won balance beam (9.25).
"It means a lot actually (to repeat). We were working really hard to get back to where we were," Gaines said. "I was actually kind of surprised (to win floor), but it’s really exciting because it’s my favorite event and I’ve worked really hard to get all of the skills I've got this year."
Gaines, Rini, junior Melissa Colao and sophomore Emily Panhorst are returnees from last year's state lineup. They lost two of their all-arounders as Amber Fox graduated and sophomore Mariah Matesi returned to club gymnastics.
But Quinn has been a powerful addition after being a Level 9 gymnast at Palmer's Gymnastics Club in Bloomingdale.
"I really like the team aspect of high school. Club was more individual so I really like being more with a team," Quinn said. "Winning (all-around) was really exciting and it felt real good to win as a team and get our highest team score of the year. It’s my first invite at the high school level so it’s good."
The Panthers had the highest team score on all four events with Gaines, Quinn (9.35) and Colao (9.2) sweeping the top three spots on floor.
Colao (9.1) and Rini (8.8) were fourth and fifth on uneven bars, and Quinn was sixth on beam (8.7).
If the Panthers qualify for state for the third consecutive year, they will match the program-best streak from their glory days (1981-83) with back-to-back state titles in 1982 and 1983. The 2009 team was third.
"Our goal this year is to go to state and do really well there," Gaines said.

 Tran, Lopez give Vernon Hills a lift

 Vernon Hills sophomore Alli Tran still is trying to gauge what she how far she go in her first high school season.
"I have no idea what the competition is at that level as far as making it to state, but I really hope I will," Tran said. "I'm really happy with how I'm doing so far. I wasn't really sure how it would end up because I've never done it before, but as of right now, it's really good."
So far, Tran has proven herself among the state's stronger all-arounders. On Saturday, she enjoyed five top-five finishes to lead the Cougars at Hersey's Michael Meyer Memorial Candy Cane Invitational. Vernon Hills (121.425) finished eighth of 12 teams in a format of just four gymnasts per event with each score going toward the team total.
Tran's 37.025 all-around total (9.26 average) took second to Glenbard North junior Amanda Quinn (37.05), another first-year high-school gymnast, by just 0.025. Tran also was second on the uneven parallel bars (9.5) to Quinn's 9.6, third on vault (9.2) and balance beam (9.15) and fourth on floor exercise (9.175).
Sophomore Sarah Lopez, another first-year gymnast for Vernon Hills, was fourth in all-around (34.90) and second on beam (9.2) to Glenbard North's Christina Rini (9.25).
"We’ve added two new sophoores that are about at Level 9. Overall it’s been a good year so far," Vernon Hills coach Denise Caton said. "Alli's usually about 36, 37 (all-around) most meets, and Sarah is just a little below that. (They became interested by) talking to the team. A lot of their friends were on the team, and they thought they would just give it a try, see how it is. Now that they’re on the team, they’re like part of the family already."
A club gymnast since she was 3, Tran comes most recently from Ultimate Gymnastics in Gurnee and Lopez from The Spot in Mundelein.
They add to an already young team. Returnee Jessica Echales is the only senior on varsity and among only two of 25 girls in the program.
"I didn’t do (high school) last year because I wanted to finish Level 9 in club," Tran said. "It took up a lot of my time so I just wanted to do something a little different (this season) so I did high school. Since that’s just the winter season, I have spring and fall free for other things to do but I can still do what I love.
"It’s a lot different, but it’s a good different. The whole team (concept), is a whole different thing. We’re so much closer. It’s really nice. It’s a little more easy going, which is also nice, but I still get it done."
It's no surprise that uneven bars earned her highest score.
"I love it all but bars is really my favorite," Tran said. "It comes naturally to me and I like it the most. Beam, I have to work too hard. It just doesn’t fit with me."
Julia Gartsman competed on three events and sophomores Dana Alsamsam and Amber Egan, returnees from the 2010 regional lineup, also saw action.
"Overall we're definitely growing as a team compared to the last five years," Caton said. "Finally we’re making those steps, we’re gaining skills, and our team scores continue to go up."

 Buffalo Grove overcoming early rash of injuries

New faces continue to get the call for the Bison.
With their top three all-arounders out, including returning sectional qualifier Katie Strack, the Bison finished 11th (117.75 points) at Saturday’s Michael Meyer Memorial Candy Cane Invitational at Hersey. The invite allows just four competitors per event with all of them counting toward the team total.
“Having your top three all-arounders out, I was really happy today to get a 117, having to count every score,” Buffalo Grove coach Stephanie Schrader said.
Two of those all-arounders, Jordan Mann and Margie Reilly, were injured during the first week of the regular season. They returned Saturday to compete only on uneven bars.
Freshman Erika Ray was the lone all-arounder, and Valerie Valak had the team’s highest finish, tying for 19th on uneven bars (8.2). Stef Arapidis, Krysta Walter and Niki Salzman, promoted from the junior varsity, also competed.
Schrader said Strack, a Level 8 gymnast who hyperextended her knee and tore a ligament in October, is hoped to return in January to compete on uneven bars and possibly beam. Strack is the team’s only returning sectional qualifier with the graduation of four-year standout Linda Dunne.
“Otherwise, my other ones have stepped up. Two of them never planned on doing bars, but when the other got hurt and all that, I’m like, ‘You have to start doing bars.’ They’ve learned in a short matter of time.” 

 Neuqua Valley about to unveil full lineup



The Wildcats weren’t at full strength Saturday, but only temporarily.
Senior all-arounder Morgan Knight, the lone returnee from last year’s regional lineup, missed the meet attending a retreat. She returned to the lineup four days earlier as the Wildcats scored a season-best 137.50 to beat South Elgin/Bartlett/Streamwood co-op.
Sophomore and first-year competitor Sara Cushing, just able to do all-around, took third (35.05) and was third on uneven bars (9.3), fifth on floor (9.15) and 10th on beam (8.3). Riley Wypiszenski, a part-time varsity competitor last season, was 10th on vault (8.925).
“Sara’s ankle is getting better. Morgan is back in the gym, just out today,” Neuqua Valley coach Christine Clark said. “We’re coming back. Two more meets and then we have a break.”