LAKE FOREST – Prairie Ridge freshman Gracie Willis considered her all-around title at the Lake Forest Robin Straus Gymnastics Invitational with a critical eye.
“It was pretty good, it wasn’t the best I’ve ever had,” Willis said. “I had a fall on bars, but everything else went pretty well.”
Willis won at 37.75, with Carmel’s Lyndsey Basara at 37.5 in second. Prairie Ridge senior Maddy Kim was third (37.1) and freshman Sydney Hallsten was fifth (36.25), displaying the quality at the top of the lineup Saturday.
Prairie Ridge, a co-op team which draws competitors from Cary-Grove, Crystal Lake Central, Crystal Lake South and Prairie Ridge, took second in the team standings with 146.3. Carmel, with 146.65, edged out the Wolves and ended their three-year reign as the meet’s champions.
Willis won balance beam (9.5) and floor exercise (9.45), Hallsten won vault (9.6) and Kim, the defending state uneven bars champion, was second in that event at 9.65, though she was successful on a new difficult skill.
“We improved so much,” Willis said. “This was our highest score we’ve had all season. I’m really proud of everyone coming together. We’re going to improve even more.”
Wolves coach Lee Battaglia, whose team will try to grab a top-three finish at the IHSA State Meet next month, knows the quality among the top three.
“Gracie, Sydney and Maddy are all 9-pluses in every event,” he said. “We have to get a little higher scores from someone else. We’re not really where I hoped to be, but we were pretty close. The key to us placing in state is going to be the first or second person (in the five-person rotation). We have to be near 9 with one of those.”
Willis’ all-around win was about what Battaglia expected.
“She is a competitor,” he said. “She’s thrown some tough sets. She went out there and did very, very well. She’s a Level 10 gymnast, she should be doing that.”
Hallsten, who attends Cary-Grove, did a layout Yurchenko to win vault. She hit the springboard for a handspring with a half-twist, then pushed off the vault for a layout backflip.
“I thought I did really good today, it was one of my better meets,” Hallsten said. “I’m really proud of us. We’ve improved a lot. We had falls, but we still got a good score. It wasn’t perfect, but we still got a good score.”
Kim added a Gienger to her bar routine, where she releases the high bar, does a flip and half-turn, then regrabs the bar. She completed that skill Saturday.
“I did it a couple years ago (in practices) and I stopped for a couple years,” she said. “This is my first year actually competing it. So far it’s gone pretty well. It’s really nerve-racking because you can’t do anything in the air once you let go of the bar. The whole skill is done basically on what precedes it. The timing has to be perfect to catch it.”
Lake Forest Robin Straus Invitational
Team scores:1. Carmel 146.65, 2. Prairie Ridge (co-op) 146.30, 3. Wheaton-Warrenvill South 142.25, 4. Lake Park 137.55, 5. Geneva 136.75, 6. Conant 136.25, 7. Lake Forest 135.65, 8. Deerfield 130.575, 9. Warren 128.95, 10. St. Charles (co-op) 127.85, 11. Lyons 123.65, 12. Niles West 121.3.
Top individual finishers
Vault: 1. Hallsten (PR) 9.6, 2. Basara (Car) 9.5, 3. Willis (PR) 9.45, 4. Kropiwiec (Car) 9.4, 5. Kim (PR) 9.35.
Uneven bars: 1. Keane (Car) 9.7, 2. Kim (PR) 9.65, 3. Basara (Car) 9.6, 4. Kerth (WWS) 9.5, 5. Kropiwiec (Car) 9.5.
Balance beam: 1. Willis (PR) 9.5, 2. Kropiwiec (Car) 9.3, 3. Horvatin (WWS) 9.2, 4. Keane (Car) 9.15, 5 (tie). Basara (Car), Naronowicz (LP) 9.1.
Floor exercise: 1. Willis (PR) 9.45, 2. Basara (Car) 9.3, 3. Burnham (WWS) 9.2, 4. FIsch (LF) 9.15, 5. Kim (PR) 9.1.
All-around: 1. Willis (PR) 37.75, 2. Basara (Car) 37.5, 3. Kim (PR) 37.1, 4. Kropiwiec (Car) 36.75, 5. Hallsten (PR) 36.25.