Barrett sisters add strength to Schaumburg family

 Senior Caitlin Barrett has worked hard to help Schaumburg achieve its first state team berth this season.
She was rewarded Wednesday.
Her solid three events, including first place on balance beam with a career-high 9.55, helped the Saxons tie their school-record score with 143.80 points to defeat host Prospect (140.40) and Elk Grove (123.65) in Mid-Suburban League action. This was a CSL crossover meet for the Saxons and does not count in their West Division standings.
“(The 9.55) was really cool, actually. It’s one of those exciting things where you just sit there and you’re like, ‘Did they flash it wrong?’ and then you’re like, ‘No, they didn’t.’ ”
“I feel like I could add to the team (if I improved), and so can everyone else. Everyone else has just as good of a chance as I do. I feel like everyone is putting in a really great effort and I’m in shock I did so well and happy about it, too.”
There were plenty of scores to be excited about. Senior Brooke Shimon won all-around (37.45), the uneven parallel bars (9.4) and vault (9.3) and was second on floor exercise (9.55). Junior Ashley Miller gritted through back problems to tie for second on beam (9.25) and get third on vault (9.0) and fourth on floor (9.4) and all-around (35.90).
Barrett also was fourth on uneven bars (8.8) and sixth on floor (9.15). Sophomore Erin Barrett, Caitlin’s sister, was fourth on uneven bars (8.8) and fifth in all-around (34.35).
“It’s great (being teammates). A lot of people don’t get along with their sisters or you see them fighting all of the time,” Caitlin Barrett said.
“My sister and I have our typical moments where we just don’t get along but most of the time always get along. She’s like my best friend and understands everything. It’s amazing being able to share everything with her and not going home and being like, ‘Guess what I did today?’ It’s like, ‘Hey, look at what we did together.’ I love being able to compete with my sister and I’m going to miss that when I have to leave.”
Junior Kristen Peterson (3 events) and sophomore Amanda Sigler (2 events) also saw action. Freshman Kat Young did not compete.
Caitlin Barrett feels that she has made her biggest improvements on beam and uneven bars. She has been having problems lately with vault, but is hoping to be an all-arounder at Saturday’s Homewood-Flossmoor Invitational.
The highlight of her beam routine Wednesday was landing her standing back flip.
“In warmups, it wasn’t solid and I was freaking out about every little thing,” Caitlin Barrett said. “I didn’t want to overthink it all because I’ll be doing a dance move and then just be hesitant about it all.”

 Scala, Prospect give home fans record-setting effort

 Prospect’s first home meet of the season Wednesday had special meaning to freshman Gianna Scala and her teammates.
“We called it our new trick day,” Scala said. “We were all trying to throw new things and it all worked out really well. We hit pretty much everything.”
Especially Scala. She set two individual school records in helping the Knights post a season-high 140.40 points to finish behind Schaumburg (143.80) while beating Elk Grove (123.65) in Mid-Suburban League triangular action.
Scala’s first-place 9.65 on floor exercise and second-place 37.20 all-around total set school records. The Knights’ 36.80 team total on floor with Scala, sophomore Meggie Kania (9.3), freshman Jackie Difonzo (9.0) and senior Christina Pekar (8.85) also was a program record.
“I wasn’t expecting to break any records at all. I was just trying to do my best and it really worked out. I didn’t even know what the records were,” Scala said.
“(A 140.40) was great. That was our goal for today. We’ve been getting 130s, but we really wanted to hit 140. A 143 is the school record. That’s what our goal is for the season. We all just pushed really hard today. We were all in the zone, just really wanted to make this a good one.”
Prospect, the only undefeated team in the CSL East Division, moved to 2-0 by beating Elk Grove (0-2 in CSL East). The results against Schaumburg, which tied its school-record score, do not count in the standings since the Saxons are in the West Division.
Scala was second in all-around to Schaumburg senior standout Brooke Shimon (37.45) and also second on vault (9.2) and the uneven parallel bars (9.15) to Shimon’s respective 9.4 and 9.3 and tied for fourth on balance beam (9.2).
Pekar (34.30) and senior Sarah Pekar (32.75), Christina’s twin sister, were sixth and seventh in all-around. Kania was fifth on vault (8.85), Kania (8.85) and Christina Pekar (8.3) were fifth and sixth on vault and shared sixth on beam (9.05), and Sarah Pekar (8.5) and Difonzo (8.45) were fifth and sixth on uneven bars.
Another big emotional lift came from junior all-arounder Lauren Johnson, who made her season debut by taking seventh on uneven bars (8.35). Johnson broke her left foot after missing a flip flop back flip on beam. She expects to be able to expand her training Dec. 22.
“I’m really happy to be back, though. I think we had a really good meet, too. That (team) floor was exciting,” Johnson said. “Probably in January I’ll be back more fully. I can’t wait, especially with this team here. It’s so much fun.”
The Knights’ fun should be increasing. Besides Johnson adding more events, Kania, a 2010 state qualifier on floor, is nursing a slight knee injury and the Pekar twins are working their way back into top form after outstanding diving seasons.
Prospect competes at the Palatine Invitational Saturday before going on winter break.
“We’re just not healthy yet. If we can go 140 on one leg, when we’re full force, it’s exciting because every meet it’s like we can get a high score,” first-year Prospect coach Randy Smith said.
“We were looking at a high 138 (tonight), something but a 140 is a little bit above what I anticipated. Everyone threw new stuff tonight. We labeled it as New Trick Wednesday. We just wanted to get them out, get them into a meet, get used to throwing them (before break). Our goal coming out at break is 143. That’s our goal. We’re looking just to slowly climb up and then when it really counts at the end of the season, that’s when we need to be perfect and have it all come together.”
Prospect unveiled three new vaults, not all successful, but things went better on the final two events with four new beam and floor routines.
Scala made her new tricks during her record-setting floor routine look easy -- a double back flip on her first pass and a handspring front full on her second.
“Gianna is like a veteran senior in a freshman body basically. She’s going to be a good coach someday. She’s always thinking, ‘If we can do this and (add) this,’ ” Smith said.
“(And) Jackie’s only to get better. She’s going to get stronger, she’s going to get smarter. It’s awesome. I think we’ll be even better next year.”
Teamwork certainly has been important in both freshmen being immediate contributors.
“(The upperclassmen have) helped me so much,” Scala said. “At first I was a little nervous. I didn’t really know everyone, but the first day of practice everyone was so welcoming. It made me feel really good to know this was a good team and everyone was behind each other all of the way.”
The support doesn’t end there.
Scala’s floor score broke the 9.6 record set by 2009 graduate Emily Rossdeutcher and Scala’s all-around total broke the 37.05 total set last season by 2010 graduate Katie Colmone, a 2010 state qualifier on all-around, uneven bars and beam who was at Wednesday’s meet.
One of the first people to congratulate Scala was Colmone, who returned to the area Tuesday on break from her freshman year at St. Louis University, where she is studying physical therapy.
Colmone arrived just in town to see the Knights’ home opener and will leave the day after their final varsity regular-season home meet, the annual Knights Invite Jan. 15, where she posted her 37.05. Colmone knows Scala from years ago when they both trained at the American Academy of Gymnastics.
“I’m so proud of her. It’s really exciting,” Colmone said. “I remember when I broke it and I was super exited so I know it’s probably the same for her. It’s just a big thing to do. I’m so happy for her. Everyone wants that fame that they get so it’s good.”

 Freshman Rafferty tasting success with Elk Grove

 Elk Grove freshman Amelia Rafferty still had the fork in hand following Wednesday’s triangular after enjoying some cake for a teammate's birthday.
Rafferty deserved some celebrating of her own. She finished off the meet by tying for second on floor exercise (9.55) and balance beam (9.25) as the Grenadiers scored 123.65 points in the Mid-Suburban League meet. Schaumburg won the meet by tying its school-record score of 143.80 points, and the host Knights posted a season-best 140.40.
“I stayed on the beam and on floor I had my highest score. I feel more confident,” said Rafferty, a Level 8/9 club gymnast at the Elk Grove Gymnastics School. “In club, you don’t compete as many meets as in high school, so with more meets I’m like more comfortable.”
On her strongest two performances, Rafferty only was outscored by Prospect freshman Gianna Scala’s school-record 9.65 on floor and Schaumburg senior Caitlin Barrett’s career-high 9.55 on beam. Rafferty was third in all-around behind Schaumburg senior Brooke Shimon (37.45) and Scala (37.20). Rafferty also had the team’s highest scores on vault (4th, 8.95) and the uneven parallel bars (9th, 8.2).
The only freshman on Elk Grove’s varsity, Rafferty sure doesn’t look like it during competition.
“She’s got very good composure. She’s a solid gymnast,” Elk Grove coach Heather DeCook said. “We’ve just got to work her routines, difficulty and add difficulty a little bit in her dance too to make her (floor) routine go a little bit more strong.
“We’re very excited to have her. She’s doing great. We’re just going to improve some of her difficulty in some of the events and I think she’s on our her way. She’s gaining confidence with each meet. She’s getting a little bit stronger and more stable.”
Sophomore Kalina Kirilova (27.80) also competed as an all-arounder. Seniors Emily Hennessy and Elena Skarlatos and juniors Ioana Manahilova and Natalie Przybylski and sophomore Sylvia Wolicki also competed.
Hennessy and Skarlatos are the lone varsity returnees. A former all-arounder, Hennessy is focusing on uneven bars and beam this season because of an injury. Skarlatos also is working her way back from being out of the lineup.
“Emily’s doing great,” DeCook said. “Her bars routine is coming along. Her beam is excellent. We need a little more difficulty on beam but we’re trying to get that. We’re working really hard to improve our with her because those are the two events we have with her.
“(Skarlatos is) doing well. We’ve had Elena out a lot for some different reasons so we’ve got a lot of work to do. She’s a pretty solid gymnast on vault and beam and floor but we need more difficulty from her.”
Rafferty is hoping to become the Grenadiers’ first individual state qualifier since 2009 graduate Kim Gulik.
“I want to make it to state but I don’t know if that’ll happen,” said Rafferty, whose favorite event is floor. “I just like it. It’s just fun. I can just let out my energy and run and go.”
Prospect, the only undefeated team in the CSL East Division, moved to 2-0 by beating Elk Grove (0-2 in CSL East). The results against Schaumburg do not count in the standings since the Saxons are in the West Division.