Powerful Schaumburg seeks healthy 2011

For many reasons, Schaumburg has plenty of depth this season. One of the main reasons is health.
“It’s nice to have the team healthy and not have to worry about any injuries, which we were plagued with last year at the beginning of the year,” Schaumburg senior Brooke Shimon said. “It’s nice just to be healthy, knock on wood, and just do our best and see where it can take us.”
On Dec. 28, the Saxons added to their success by winning the John Brinkworth Memorial Invitational at Maine West.
The invite allows each team just three competitors per event, one of them an all-arounder, and specialists cannot do more than two events.
The Saxons collected 106.45 points, an average routine score of 8.87, with Prospect (102.55) and Rolling Meadows (97.15) second and third.
The invite recognizes team event champions rather than individual awards. Team event winners were Schaumburg on floor exercise (27.50) and the uneven parallel bars (27.10), Fenton on vault (26.70) and Prospect on balance beam (26.45).
“For a meet coming back after break over a week -- we’ve had 10 days off here and there that they’re not used to -- I’m impressed how we did. We had some good stuff,” Schaumburg coach Jami Stilling said. “Overall a lot of good came from it, just getting back into competition and having fun, not the stress and the pressure, just kind of enjoying it.”
Shimon, Schaumburg’s all-around entry, had the top total (36.60) with Prospect freshman Gianna Scala (35.50) and Rolling Meadows’ Lauren Cerza (34.15) second and third.
Shimon tied for first on vault (9.2), Ashley Miller and Cailtin Barrett tied for first on uneven bars (9.05) with Shimon third (9.0), Shimon (9.4) and Miller (9.35) finished 1-2 on floor and Shimon (9.0) and Erin Barrett (8.9) were second and third on beam. Adding to the first-place floor score was Erin Barrett’s fifth-place 8.75.
Miller is making progress from her back injury. She had a strong floor routine and the 2010 state finalist on uneven bars made her release move and had a strong routine before falling on her toe front dismount. Caitlin Barrett tried a new vault and Kristen Peterson landed hers.
“It was a pretty good meet, not my best, but it’s just about getting the rust off. It was a team meet so I’m really happy the way we finished. That was the cherry on top of it all,” Shimon said.
“I think that the break just gave us the extra time to put in more skills and difficulty and just get more confident with all of our routines, just bump it up to the next level, so that we can hopefully compete with the top teams and we can make it to state as a team. That’s our goal.”

 Prospect's Pekar springs into stronger second half

 Prospect senior Christina Pekar is diving back into gymnastics.
After she and her twin sister, Sarah, qualified for the state diving meet, they are contributing even more to the Knights’ strong lineup.
“Definitely, I’m just getting back into it. I definitely feel like I’m reaching my peak so that’s good,” Christina Pekar said.
On Dec. 28, Prospect had the highest team score on balance beam en route to finishing second at the John Brinkworth Memorial Invitational at Maine West.
Schaumburg won the meet with 106.45 points with Prospect (102.55) and Rolling Meadows (97.15) second and third.
The invite allows each team just three competitors per event, one of them an all-arounder, and specialists cannot do more than two events, meaning Prospect averaged 8.55 per routine.
The invite recognizes team event champions rather than individual awards. Prospect won balance beam (26.45) with scores from Christina Pekar (career-high 9.05), who had the top score for the invite, and freshman Gianna Scala (8.85) and junior Lauren Johnson (8.55), who were fourth and fifth.
“We took first on (beam) so that was awesome. I didn’t really see anybody else’s (scores) besides Schaumburg so I was hoping,” Christina Pekar said.
“I was a little shaky but just trying to stay calm. I have a standing back this year, which I never had, so that’s boosted my score. Definitely (you can be a little rusty) because it’s right after Christmas so you’re kind of in that mentality, but it’s fun to get back into it with a meet. It’s a good way to start off coming back.”
Scala, Prospect’s all-around entry, took second (35.50) behind Schaumburg senior Brooke Shimon (36.60). Besides beam, Scala was third on floor (9.1), fifth on vault (9.1) and tied for fifth on uneven bars (8.45).

 Niles North's Steinberg vaulting to higher scores

 Niles North senior Deborah Steinberg had trouble with her first vault.
She nailed the second attempt.
“I over-rotated on (the first one) and the second one was just, I don’t know. It was just good,” Steinberg said. “I get adrenaline. They’re always better in meets than in practice.”
Steinberg’s 9.2 for her tuck Tsukahara shared the invite’s highest score on the event with Schaumburg senior Brooke Shimon.
“Really? I tied for first on vault. That’s really good,” Steinberg said. “That was my best vault of the season so far so that feels really good. We’re hoping to pike it up soon so that’ll boost it up a couple of tenths.”
“If she does it well, she’s pretty consistent around that score,” Niles North coach Charlie Friedman said. “She’s worked pikes. We actually threw it in one meet. It really depends on how her warmups are going. Hopefully by the end of the year, she’ll be a pike, or as soon as they get there.”
Steinberg usually is the No. 2 vaulter on the Vikings behind senior Citlali Cuevas, a two-time state qualifier. Cuevas only competed on uneven bars to protect a slight ankle injury and was fourth (8.75).
Junior Maddy Neuhaus (9th on beam, 8.05 and senior Jenny Lin (tied for 9th on vault, 8.5) also were top-10 finishers. Freshman Jessie Neuhaus, Maddy's sister, sat out the meet to rest an injury.
“I want to score higher,” Steinberg said. “I went 9.3 at conference last year and got second behind (Cuevas) so I want to try to boost it up. But this is good. I don’t usually get first on vault so it feels good.”

 Maine West trying to overcome injury to Madalinski

 Maine West has had to step up as a team.
The Warriors’ top gymnast, junior Michelle Madalinski, is out for the season after imploding her anterior cruciate knee ligament and tearing her mensiscus doing a double full during her floor exercise routine during a dual meet against Maine East Dec. 7.
Madalinski, a 2009 state qualifier on balance beam, did not dive on the fall with hopes of returning to state this February. She is scheduled to undergo surgery in late January.
“And she was having such a great meet, too, like a record-setting meet, and it was our last event. I felt so bad,” Maine West coach Cali Sievert said.
“It was a shame. She worked so hard. She was very upset that she didn’t make state last year so she gave up diving and just concentrated on gymnastics. So that’s what was breaking my heart even more, that she gave up something to concentrate on it and now she’s out for the season.”
The rest of the Warriors are doing their best to overcome the injury. Sievert said senior Stacey Delgado has done a great job as captain and could even qualify for state herself individually for the first time. Junior Lauren Delgado, Stacey's sister, and feshman Natasha Tsinonis also have made strong progress. With the Delgados out of town, Tsinonis was the Warriors' all-rounder at the invite (9th, 31.05) and had an eighth-place 8.55 on floor.
“They (as a team) were bummed, obviously, because Michelle was a huge score us, but they’ve been working really, really well,” Sievert said. 
“They were obviously very sad at first. They thought, ‘Season’s over,’ and I’m like, ‘The season’s not over. Can we win conference realistically? No, we can’t do it without her, but we can still take second or third, which is better than last year. We can shoot for that.’ ”