Covers, PR shoot for fantastic finish

Jenny Covers’ goal is pretty basic – go 4 for 4.

The Prairie Ridge gymnast simply wants to hit her routines on all four events at the IHSA Girls Gymnastics State Meet today and Saturday at Palatine High School.

Covers and her coach, Lee Battaglia, figure if she does that, everything will take care of itself. Covers’ skills are so advanced, it may not matter what anyone else does, and Covers likely will win her third all-around state championship in three years.

From sectional performances, Covers’ 38.875 has her seeded .275 ahead of Carmel’s Lauren Feely. Hinsdale Central’s Kristen Grilli is next at 38.275.

“Just hit the four events, that’s the main goal,” Covers said. “Go out there and show them what you got, and just hit them.”

Covers will compete at Minnesota on a full scholarship next year. She has four state titles in two years of high school state meets and will be joined by her team again this weekend. Last year, the Wolves finished fourth. Prairie Ridge sneaked into state with the fourth at-large team berth (out of four).

Covers qualified in all four individual events and all-around, and junior Nikki Novak, who previously competed in club with Battaglia’s Crystal Lake Gymnastics Training Center, made it in the vault, uneven bars, floor exercise and all-around.

The preliminary and all-around competition starts at 5:05 p.m. today. The top 10 competitors, including ties, advance to Saturday’s finals, which start at 5:45 p.m. Team scores may only improve from those competitors in the individual event finals. All-around scores are final after the preliminaries.

Novak said she’s used to large crowds at some of their club meets, but appreciates Covers’ state experience.

“I’m glad Jenny’s here to tell me what to do,” Novak said. “She said it’s a long, tough meet. I don’t really know what to expect. Crowds don’t really bother me much, it’s more nerves and just going through a routine after not warming up for a while.”

The Wolves hope to have Danielle Dyra, who suffered a sprained left ankle more than a month ago, back in the lineup. Dyra was consistently the No. 3 scorer for the Wolves before she was hurt.

“If you take a look at our sectional scores, we had to count some [in the high] 7s,” Battaglia said. “You put Danielle in, she’s going to be near 9, that’s a whole point. It really ups our score.”

Although Covers said she has one slight twinge in a knee, Battaglia doesn’t think that will hold her back. He sees a big finish coming.

“That [injury] is just part of gymnastics, from doing it over and over again,” he said. “It’s a little nagging thing. On a scale of 1-10, I’d give it about a 2. The goal Friday is 4 for 4. We’ll see if it fits the pattern. If all goes through, we’re going out with a bang [in Saturday’s individual finals].

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