Red Devil Invitational

At Hinsdale Central

Saturday, Dec. 11


 Usher, Red Devils floor competition at invite

See Bill Stone's story on Hinsdale Central by following this link:


Stevenson gymnastics a way of life for Wojton





 If it seems as though junior Theresa Wojton has been associated with Stevenson gymnastics for several years, that’s because she has.
“I don’t remember not being a part of Stevenson gymnastics,” Wojton said.
The bond began as a child watching a family friend, followed by older sister Stephanie, now a sophomore competing at Winona (Minn.) State University. Competing together, they helped the Patriots win the 2009 state championship.
“I remember when I was little, I would always come to the meets,” Theresa Wojton said.
“Sometimes I couldn’t come to the meet because I had (club) practice, which would upset me because I just loved watching. I thought it was so much fun. The team support and everything about the team is what I love most. Watching my sister be on the team and then having me be on the team, I just have always known I need to be part of a team to do well.”
Wojton wants to be with this year’s team all the way to the state meet. On Saturday, her four top-10 finishes helped the Patriots take second at Hinsdale Central’s Red Devil Invitational with 142.625 points. The host Red Devils won with a season-high 145.025.
Stevenson junior and defending state balance beam champion Ali Castriano won all-around (36.325) and the uneven parallel bars (9.35). Wojton (35.425) and senior Carlie Dobkin (34.90) were fourth and sixth in all-around.
“We’re still in the progressive mode and trying to build up our team and we’re having a lot of fun doing it. We’re just working as hard as we can and just trying to learn new skills on our first score,” Wojton said. 
“I’m just trying to have fun and support the team. They’re like my best friends. It’s so much fun because I just love coming out here and having support from them and helping them achieve goals that they want. I just think it’s so much fun being out here with friends that you can trust and have fun with at any time.”
Dobkin was second on vault (9.4) to Hinsdale Central’s Kristen Grilli (9.5), Castriano also was fourth on floor exercise (9.35) and fifth on vault (9.225), senior Caitlin Pagano was fourth on balance beam (8.725), Wojton was fifth on floor (9.25) and sophomore Becca Foltman-Frank was fifth on uneven parallel bars (8.85).
Senior Amanda Holleb, sophomore Riley Trebilco, Dani Webb and Lauren Whalen also saw action.
It’s a group intent on returning to the state meet for the fourth time in the past five years after just missing last season with the 11th best sectional score (142.90) that missed the 144.475 cut. On Dec. 8, the Patriots scored a season high in beating returning eighth-place state finisher Lake Forest 147.85 to 146.75 in a key North Suburban Conference dual in Lincolnshire.
“So far it’s turning out to be a really fun year,” Stevenson coach Judy Harwood said. “It’s a hard-working group, they get along well. They feel like they have something to prove because they didn’t make (state).
“I’m real pleased with how hard they’re working. For them to not make it to state last year was bad. but they used it to motivate themselves. They worked really hard over the summertime and they look much better than they did last year. If we get it together, I feel like we could be better than last year. I think we could one of the top teams in state. We just kind of have to see after Christmas break how things are.”
The Patriots took a big blow just before last postseason when Pagano was sidelined after injuring her elbow just before the NSC Meet. She underwent two surgeries, the latter after it didn’t heal properly.
So far, Pagano only has been competing on beam because her routine doesn’t stress the elbow. She just received medical clearance to begin putting weight on the elbow.
“If she gets all the way back, it would be a real triumph. She’s having fun and she’s a senior so she needs to have whatever season she can have,” Harwood said. 
“If Caitlin makes it back, we’re pretty solid but right now we’re just merging on being  good team. I think we will become a pretty stonrg team but right now we’re just kind of laid back and having fun.”
Wojton and Foltman-Frank (9.2) tied for sixth on vault, Dobkin was sixth on beam (8.6) and eighth on the uneven parallel bars (8.75), and Wojton (8.475) and Castriano (8.4) was seventh and tied for 10th on beam.
Besides her scores and experience dating back to the American Academy of Gymnastics in Wheeling, Wojton hopes to help the team return to state by providing motivation at practice and during competition. She acknowledges that cheering from her teammates helps her to perform better.
“I need support so I support a lot of other people. I do exactly the same thing I want them to do. I’m always there for them,” Wojton said.
“OK, we really want to get there (to state). If we don’t, it’s OK. It happens, like last year. We just want to go because it’s so much fun. You see all of our friends there. We work out with each other. A lot of the girls from different schools go to the same club we do and so it’s much fun to see everyone and see how they’ve progressed throughout the year.”

 Wilkes up to new tricks for rebuilding OPRF 

 Oak Park-River Forest junior Morgan Wilkes enjoys learning gymnastics tricks.
Adding them to routines is, well, often the real trick.
“That’s the only bad thing,” Wilkes said. “That’s why (OPRF coach Kris Wright) won’t let me work on stuff immediately because she’s like, ‘How are you going to add this into your routine?’ and ‘How is this going to work?’ ”
Wilkes and senior Grace Ryan are the only two returnees from last year’s varsity and were the top performers for the Huskies at Saturday’s Red Devil Invitational at Hinsdale Central. OPRF (125.875 points) finished fifth of eight teams.
Wilkes was a top-10 finisher in all-around (9th, 32.65) and vault (9th, 8.85) and was her team’s top scorer on the uneven parallel bars (13th, 8.15). Ryan was a team-best 12th on balance beam (8.375).
Also seeing action were first-year senior Stephanie Osborne, a former cheerleader, junior first-year team member Annabelle Goldin-Mertdog, sophomores Nicole Pohlman and Emma Rosenbaum.
The Huskies graduated nine seniors from last year’s sectional-qualifying team. Also new is assistant coach Shayne Gavrick, replacing longtime assistant Wendy Kuenster, a former OPRF gymnast who recently gave birth to her fourth child.
“We’re kind of basing the team around (Wilkes and Ryan),” Wright said. “I feel it’s a rebuilding year. I’ve never used that term before, but I seriously feel like it’s an interesting mix of some really talented kids that need to be in the gym all year. But we’re doing well. It’s early in the season so we’re trying some new skills.”
Wilkes has her list of new skills. She’s working on a tuck Tsukahara vault, a toe on for uneven bars, a back on beam and a double twist for floor.
“I’m excited about beam. There’s so much stuff that I could get because I don’t really have that much now. You can only go up,” Wilkes said. “I think my highest goal is to get an 8.0 on beam and 9.0 on vault. I don’t know about (reaching) state, but I do want to make it to sectionals.”
“Morgan is just Miss Trickster. She would love to have a million tricks from yesterday. We’ve just got to take all of the tricks and put them into a routine that stays the same,” Wright said.
Ryan (30.875) and Pohlman (30.875) also competed as all-arounders, and Goldin-Mertdog (tied for 14th on uneven bars, 8.0) and Rosenbaum both contributed two routines that counted toward the team total.
A fourth-year varsity member, Ryan also has continued to emerge as a leader and should improve as the season progresses.
“I think Grace is feeling (the need to lead) the most. Grace is seeing it now and really trying hard to step it up,” Wright said. “Ability wise she is really is an amazing gymnast. She has a ton of skills in her back pocket that haven’t been around lately because you have to be in the gym 24/7. But I think she’s getting better. She’s trying very hard to step up. She’s being more focused in her practices.”
The underclassmen also are taking it upon themselves to support each other.
“I think we got close once (last year’s seniors) left. Even though I am kind of sad they left, I’m happy that we got closer together,” Wilkes said. “And Annabelle, she’s new, but I think she would be like a leader, too. She’s as good as Grace and I are.”

Cohesiveness developing for Downers Grove South

The Mustangs are making progress, especially as a team.
They finished fourth at the Red Devil Invitational (129.925 points), 1.375 points behind third-place Lake Park.
“What’s really cool is they’re starting to jell as a team,” Downers Grove South coach Kristyn Moavero said. “The freshman (Alexxa Rassano) has kind of incorporated with the seniors and my girl that transferred in last year from Morton (senior Brittany Rohl) is now like part of the team. They’re like one little unit now, instead of two there, two there, two there, when they don’t know anyone.”
Senior Sam Shimkus was eighth in all-around (33.15). Rohl was 10th on vault (8.725), Elise Wendt was 12th on floor (8.9) and tied for 14th on uneven bars (8.15) and Shimkus (8.225) and Lauren Wendt (8.2) were 14th and 15th on beam. Savannah Reimer joined Shimkus was uneven bars routines with giants, and Shimkus is adding a flip flop to beam.
“She has full bonus, full requirements on beam. She stayed on so that’s great,” Moavero said.
The Mustangs dropped from their 131.60 in Thursday's Dec. 9 victory at Morton, but Moavero agreed that meet was probably scored consistently high. Lauren Wendt, Reimer and four lower-level gymnasts missed the meet because of a winter concert.