High school girls gymnastics: Prairie Ridge co-op wins Schaumburg Sectional title

Prairie Ridge co-op's Gabby Riley is congratulated by teammates after performing on the uneven bars during the Schaumburg Sectional on Wednesday in Schaumburg. The Wolves won the team championship.
Prairie Ridge co-op's Gabby Riley is congratulated by teammates after performing on the uneven bars during the Schaumburg Sectional on Wednesday in Schaumburg. The Wolves won the team championship.

SCHAUMBURG – Gabby Riley raced through her first tumbling pass on floor exercise and stuck the landing on her double backflip in tuck position.

In the next few seconds, Riley grinned and winked toward the judges’ table and her Prairie Ridge co-op teammates. Floor exercise, more than any of the other three events, gives gymnasts a chance to express themselves.

“I love floor,” said Riley, a freshman at Cary-Grove. “It’s so much fun. I love making facial expressions toward the judges. It really makes me happy.”

Riley had plenty to be happy about. She won floor, uneven bars and the all-around titles at the Schaumburg Sectional on Wednesday. The Wolves, a co-op team that draws from Prairie Ridge, C-G, Crystal Lake South and Crystal Lake Central, won the team title with 149.325 points and is headed back to next weekend’s IHSA State Meet in Palatine.

The Wolves had been to seven consecutive state meets, winning three of those, before that streak ended last year.

Sydney Hallsten finished third in the all-around (37.675) and Gracie Willis was fourth (37.0). Lake Zurich took second with 148.275 points and likely will receive an at-large team berth after the last of the four sectionals Thursday. The top four teams not winning their sectional get at-large berths.

On bars, Riley landed a Jaeger, where she swings up backwards, releases and flips, then regrabs the bar and continues her routine. She scored 9.5 to win that event and scored 9.675 to win floor.

“Gabby had a good meet, 4 for 4,” Wolves coach Lee Battaglia said. “She’s supposed to do that, she’s a Level 10 [club] gymnast. Syd [Hallsten] did what she was supposed to do, she hit her events. That’s all you can ask for. Gracie had a rough meet. She’s better than that and she’ll show it next week.”

Willis bobbled her bars and vault dismounts and fell off the balance beam, yet still finished fourth all-around.

“For the team, it was outstanding,” Willis said. “We really improved from last meet (Maine South Regional). We had some mistakes to correct and we did. I’m really proud of everyone. Everyone came together as a team.”

The top five finishers in each event and all-around advance to state. The next top 12 scores after the sectionals are awarded at-large berths.

Hallsten had three top-five finishes and should get an at-large on bars, where she was seventh.

“It was really cool to see all of us rise to the competition,” Hallsten said. “This is the best we’ve done all year. For me specifically, I was really proud of the vault I did because I haven’t done one like that in a really long time.”

Two other gymnasts, Katie McEnery (a senior at Crystal Lake South) and Teagan Perrone (a junior at C-G) did their part for the Wolves. McEnery was the first competitor of the meet and scored 9.125 on the uneven bars. Perrone then started Prairie Ridge off with an 8.75 on balance beam.

“You’re setting the stepping-stones for everyone else [going first],” McEnery said. “If you hit, it almost guarantees your team is going to hit. I was really excited. I added my dismount last week. I was hoping by adding my new dismount, which is a higher point level, it would boost my score and help the team.”

Perrone helped give her teammates confidence with a beam routine free of falls.

“I feel pretty comfortable on the beam,” she said. “My coach and I joke that I have to do it just like I do it in the gym. It paves the path for the team to follow that. By hitting that routine, it really hypes up your team.”

Schaumburg Girls Gymnastics Sectional

Team scores (winner advances to state): 1. Prairie Ridge co-op 149.325, 2. Lake Zurich 148.275, 3. Fremd 143.975, 4. Conant 142.5, 5. Palatine 142.4, 6. Barrington 141.9.

Individual results (top five advance to state)

Vault: 1. Kayla Bailey (LZ) 9.8, 2. Sydney Hallsten (PR) 9.75, 3. Gabby Riley (PR) 9.6, 4. Brooke Husby (Barr) 9.45, 5. Sol Serratos (HE) 9.425.

Uneven bars: 1. Riley (PR) 9.5, 2. Alexa Rothmeyer (Schaum) 9.425, 3. Gracie Willis (PR) 9.4, 4. Sam Shirmer (Fremd) 9.325, 5. Bailey (LZ), Rayna Kauffman (LZ) 9.25.

Balance beam: 1. Bailey (LZ) 9.5, 2. Afroditi Baltsas (Maine E.) 9.45, 3. Riley (PR) 9.425, 4. Hallsten (PR) 9.35, 5. Vessell (Fremd) 9.25.

Floor exercise: 1. Riley (PR) 9.675, 2. Bailey (LZ) 9.55, 3 (tie). Willis (PR), Emma Hupp (Hersey) 9.425, 5. Hallsten (PR) 9.35.

All-Around: 1. Riley (PR) 38.2, 2. Bailey (LZ) 38.1, 3. Hallsten (PR) 37.675, 4. Willis (PR) 37.0, 5. Rothmeyer (Schaum) 36.55.

Prairie Ridge results

Vault: Hallsten 9.75, Riley 9.6, Perrone 9.425, Audrey Burke 9.175.

Uneven bars: Riley 9.5, Willis 9.4, Hallsten 9.225, Katie McEnery 8.925.

Balance beam: Riley 9.425, Hallsten 9.35, Willis 9.2, Teagan Perrone 8.75.

Floor exercise: Riley 9.675, Willis 9.425, Hallsten 9.35, McEnery 9.15.

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