Girls gymnastics: 6 from area qualify for Level 9 Eastern Championships

Reagan Gnewuch could not bear the thought of being left out of a national gymnastics competition again this year, not after missing last year by one-tenth of a point.

The Cary-Grove sophomore turned her near-miss frustration into something positive, using it for motivation throughout the past year.

The result was Gnewuch’s best all-around performance of the year, an all-around score of 37.175 in the Region 5 Championships the weekend of April 8 in Indianapolis. That score netted Gnewuch second place, qualifying her for the Level 9 Eastern Championships at The Summit in Lansing, Michigan, on Friday through Sunday.

Gnewuch competes out of Huntley Gymnastics Academy. Five other local competitors, all from Crystal Lake Gymnastics Training Center, also will be competing at that national meet: Alyssa Petko, Maddy Kim, Clancy Raupp, Mackenzie Pierson and Lauren deLara. The top seven in all-around in each division advance to nationals.

“It’s really exciting because I didn’t make it last year,” said Gnewuch, who will compete in the Level 9 Senior 5 Division. “It was really all I worked for and wanted to do this year. I missed it by a tenth. I didn’t want to have to go through that again. I was really happy that I made it.”

Gnewuch, 16, plans to compete in gymnastics at college.

Petko, Kim and Raupp were members of the Prairie Ridge co-op team that won its third consecutive team title at the IHSA state meet. The Prairie Ridge team is coached by Lee Battaglia, the owner of CLGTC.

Petko, a C-G senior, won the Level 9 Senior 8 all-around at Indianapolis. Everyone knew Petko had made it to nationals – except her.

“I didn’t calculate my score,” she said. “My parents knew, my friends knew, my coaches knew … everyone knew except me. They’re announcing 7, 6, 5, 4 and I’m thinking, ‘Well, I guess I didn’t make it this year.’ It made it a little more special not knowing.”

Petko plans to attend Illinois and might join the school’s club team but is looking at this meet as her last.

Kim and Raupp are competing in Level 9 Senior 4. Kim is a sophomore at Prairie Ridge, Raupp is a sophomore at Crystal Lake Central. Pierson, 13, will compete at Level 9 Junior 7; deLara, also 13, will compete at Level 9 Junior 5.

“This was my best meet I’ve had in years at Level 9,” Kim said. “These were the best routines I threw in my whole life. I’m excited to go. Nationals is like the whole goal, to represent Region 5, represent Illinois, represent your club. It’s a whole new experience and just something I want to experience.”

Raupp battled a stress fracture in her back last year and is making her first trip to nationals as well.

“It’s really exciting,” Raupp said. “It shows how all my hard work has paid off.”

Like Petko, Raupp said she and Kim did not know their scores before the results were announced. Raupp finished sixth, Kim fifth.

“We decided we weren’t going to look at our scores,” Raupp said. “We didn’t want to know what’s going on.”

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