Lyons Township 143.10, Glenbard West 141.35

Thursday, Dec. 8

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Fenton 121.85, Glenbard South 114.45

Thursday, De

This Glenbard South VanDenend doesn't run with the pack
By Bill Stone
SGS co-publisher

Glenbard South junior Lacey VanDenend usually sees action on three events.

"I really don't like competing (uneven parallel) bars, but I'm OK with it," VanDenend said. "I would opt out if I could."
But for the Dec. 1 season-opener against Fenton, VanDenend was needed and joined junior MaryKate Sippel as all-arounders. With a depleted lineup, the Raiders lost to their visiting Independent Conference counterparts 121.85-114.45 in Glen Ellyn..
"Our cheering crowd and our cheers (were the highlights)," VanDenend said. "We always support everybody and we definitely encourage each other when we know we're super nervous or not sure of a skill.
"Personally, I think I did a lot better. I tried to calm my nerves, tried to focus. I had to compete bars at the last moment, but that's what you have to do sometimes is step up, especially when you're on varsity. It's nerve-racking, but not that big of a deal for me."
First-year Glenbard South coach Lee Wood entered the meet with top senior all-arounder Ashley Ellis held to one event because of injury, a first-place 8.1 on bars. The Raiders also were awaiting a decision on whether a foreign-exchange student from Germany would become eligible to compete.
Wood, who took over as Raiders coach when Donna Murphy stepped down because her husband's job took her out of the country, was Wheaton North co-op's coach last season. The Wheaton North/West Chicago team has been merged with Wheaton Warrenville South this season.
Wood is working with former Glenbard South girls coach and longtime assistant Steve Young. 
"I'm more excited about just getting them all back healthy and getting them all set," Wood said of his gymnasts. "That'll be the best part. We'll just pick up where we left off and clean some things up and, hopefully, as the injuries are better, the girls can come back, compete and fill in the slots."
The Raiders also will get a lift from Sippel, a first-year team member with club experience who hasn't competed since middle school. She tied for first in all-around (31.85) with Fenton senior and two-year sectional qualifier Becky Aichele, won floor exercise with the highest score in the meet (8.8) and had a team-high 7.45 for second on balance beam.
"It's difficult to put your stuff back (and adjust) to high school rules, but she's definitely an awesome new addition as well," Wood said. "I don't see any way of not getting her to state on something this year, as well. The same thing with Ashley when she's healthy."
VanDenend (30.60 all-around) led the Raiders on vaulting with a second-place 7.95. Senior and four-year team member Susan Gouch competed on bars and floor. Stephanie Straka, a senior, and juniors Taryn Androus and Alyssa Burger also saw action. All three are returnees.
"The event I like the most is probably beam," VanDenend said. "Most people would not like it. Most people think it's the scariest, but it's very calming for me sometimes. Today it didn't go so good (6.8). Usually I stick everything, but I had a fall. It's the first meet. You can always improve. Hopefully it won't get worse."
VanDenend's brother, Micah, 26, also was a standout runner at Glenbard South. He was the 2001 Class AA state champion in boys cross country and the 2002 AA state champion in the 3,200-meter run in track. He went on to greater success at the University of Iowa,  as a three-year NCAA national qualifier in track and two-year national qualifier in track. Hawkeyes coach Larry Wieczorek has said that VanDenend possibly was the school's best male distance runner.
He recently was hired as the men's and women's cross country and track coach at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside in Kenosha, Wis. Another older brother, Bob, also was an accomplished runner for the Raiders.
Does Lacey ever envision herself as a runner?
"No. Oh jeez, that would not be pretty," she said. "I do not like running. I give my brother all of the props for that because running is not my passion."