State women’s gymnastics returned Friday to the Palatine after a year-long hiatus. But for the first time since the state meet’s inception in 1977, the meet did not feature a team from the northwest suburbs.
But almost all the schools were represented on Friday, during the qualifications for the individual events, as well as the general competition.
Emily Gianfrancesco of Prospect, Olivia Tangorra of Buffalo Grove, Sabrina Nemcek of Hersey, Brooklyn Hextall of Rolling Meadows and Elyssa Wuerffel of Hoffman Estates were all able to qualify in individual events and advance to Saturday’s final at 2 p.m.
Gianfrancesco came in with a solid day. The sophomore not only qualified for the vault final with a 9.60, but she finished eighth in the all-around with a 36.95.
“I’m so excited,” said Gianfrancesco. “It was a great competition. I competed with new skills that I haven’t participated in this season. It’s super exciting to do them and do them.”
The bars were a huge event for gymnasts in the northwest suburbs with three qualifications.
Tangorra, who is a senior, had the highest qualifying score on bars with a 9.45. Nemcek, who is a freshman, also qualified on bars with a 9.30. Hextall, who is a junior and scored a 9.275, also qualified in the event.
“The pirouettes have been tough all year,” Hextall said. “But this week I worked really hard to get my spins really consistent. I did some sets. My double back was really good too.”
Wuerffel, who is a senior, also had a very good day. She qualified on beam with a 9.375 and finished 26th in the all-around with a 35.85.
“It went really well,” said Wuerffel, who had made the final before but never the all-around.
“It was actually a lot of fun. I wanted to absorb my last competition in gymnastics. I hope to do well (Saturday).”
Palatine’s Jocie Waddington finished 20th in the all-around with a 36.15.
Sefora Hanc from Leiden became the first gymnast from her school to qualify for individual finals since 2011. Hanc scored an 8.225 on bars but came back with an impressive 9.325 on balance beam. Unfortunately, her balance beam score was 12th overall and she just missed qualifying for Saturday’s individual finals.
“I’m really happy to have made it here,” said Hanc, who is a junior. “It was a lot of fun. We just put the flip-flop on this week and it was my first time doing it. I was happy to hit it.”
Prairie Ridge leads the team competition with a score of 147.90. Vernon Hills is second at 146.475 while DeKalb is third at 146.30. Teams can add to their point totals in individual finals.
Prairie Ridge’s Gracie Willis and DeKalb’s Madeline Kees tied for the all-around title at 37.80. Stevenson’s Ashley Schabes finished third with a 37.70.
The Patriots junior finished third in the all-around with a 37.70. She also qualified for the individual finals on vault and floor.
“It was by far the best meeting of the year for me,” Schabes said. “I trained very hard this year. I think everything came at the right time.”
Stevenson’s Ally Gitler qualified on bars and floor.
Stevenson was back in the national final for the first time in 10 years. The Patriots had to overcome an injury to Maya Ferguson, who was injured during warm-ups.
“It’s one of my finest teams,” said Stevenson coach Judy Harwood, who has coached the Patriots since 1991.
“They’re a special group. It was tough for the team when Maya got injured, but they really stepped up.”