High school gymnastics: Prairie Ridge co-op finishes second at Hoffman Estates Sectional

Wolves likely to qualify for state meet with at-large berth

HOFFMAN ESTATES – Prairie Ridge saw one streak unexpectedly come to an end at Wednesday’s Hoffman Estates Girls Gymnastics Sectional Meet because of a few too many mistakes and an opportunistic Maine South team.

But while the Wolves did not leave with their usual sectional plaque, they almost assuredly will have a shot at something better next week. Prairie Ridge, a co-op team with athletes from Cary-Grove, Crystal Lake Central, Crystal Lake South and Prairie Ridge, will be aiming for a fourth consecutive team title Feb. 16 and 17 at the IHSA Girls Gymnastics State Meet at Palatine.

Prairie Ridge must wait until after Thursday’s Lake Park Sectional for the official announcement that it will receive an at-large berth, something it has not been concerned with since 2011. The four sectional championship teams receive automatic berths to state, with the next four highest scores out of sectionals getting at-larges.

While Prairie Ridge’s 147.325 was just behind Maine South (147.425) on Wednesday, it was far ahead of any other teams in the Sandburg and Niles North sectionals. For Prairie Ridge to not get an at-large berth, four teams at Lake Park would have to beat its score, which would be unheard of.

Prairie Ridge coach Lee Battaglia, who watched his team record its highest score (151.3) to win last week’s Hersey Regional, took the loss in stride.

“They’re capable of better, and that’s good,” he said. “We can’t just walk into the gym and win. There are other teams out there who are very good. We had a lot of misses and that’s what happens, you lose.”

Prairie Ridge’s Kira Karlblom led the team with a 37.225 score for second in the all-around to Maine South’s Caleigh Pistorius (37.65). There were falls, stumbles and errors with Prairie Ridge’s other top gymnasts that lowered the Wolves’ score.

“There’s always mistakes; we just have to get through those,” Karlblom said. “This was definitely a rough night for us, but we can get back to practice and should be up there with everybody else at state. We’ll be in the gym working harder than ever. This was definitely motivation for us.”

Junior Ciara Ryan joined the team for the first time this year and is looking forward for state after what she described as an “off day.”

“It wasn’t our best performance, but I’m confident that if we make it at-large we’re going to come back and perform better at state,” Ryan said. “We’re going to practice harder and become more consistent on our routines. I’m sure we’re going to come back stronger.”

The top five individual finishers automatically advance to state, with the next 12 best performances from sectionals receiving at-large berths. Karlblom, Clancy Raupp and Maddy Kim qualified in all-around, with Ryan, who was sixth, likely getting in at-large.

Karlblom qualified in vault, uneven bars and floor exercise, and could get in on balance beam.

Ryan (vault), Raupp (balance beam) and Katarina Schaffer (floor exercise) also qualified automatically.

“Kira Karlblom had a great meet,” Battaglia said. “She really came through in all her events. Maddy Kim? Rough meet. Clancy? Rough meet. Ciara? Rough meet. It’s their first one, this whole year they’ve done well. You know what? It didn’t go our way tonight; that’s the nature of the sport. It’s a good wakeup call, they’ll be ready in another week.”

Jacobs senior Molly Meehan was the first competitor of the meet on vault, where she scored 9.3 and could be in line for an at-large qualification. She also scored 34.875 as an all-around competitor.

“[Waiting] is a little nerve-wracking because there are some good teams tomorrow [at Lake Park],” said Meehan, who qualified for state vault last year. “My all-around was way better than I have [scored] all season for club. I got my highest score, so it’s better.”

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