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.”