ELMHURST – In order to get to the gymnastics complex at York High School, spectators and participants alike have to climb a set of stairs before reaching their destination.
A week after taking the Upstate Eight Conference gymnastics crown, the St. Charles co-op team will be climbing the proverbial stairs a little more after winning the IHSA York Girls Regional Championship.
St Charles – which is a mix of girls from East and North – won the five-team regional with a score of 145.2 to advance to the Glenbard West Sectional taking place Tuesday after having a strong all-around meet despite the loss of junior Sidney Copeland.
Copeland, who is out for the rest of the year with a partial ACL tear, was on the mind of all of her teammates. But St. Charles coach Amy Lill said the team needed to focus its attention on advancing to sectionals.
“I think we made a huge statement that we’re still a huge force to be reckoned with,” Lill said. “Just because we lost Sidney doesn’t mean we don’t have to depth to step up and still get a 145. Obviously one person doesn’t make up a whole team. We talked all season about how we have depth and this is an example of that.”
Minus Copeland, who was scheduled to compete in all of the meets’ events including the floor exercise, St. Charles still managed to advance with relative ease, besting its UEC meet score of 144. Junior Kelly Gorniak won the all-around competiion with a 36.8.
Right in the middle of the points was senior Jesi Ortiz, who came through with big performances in the vault and floor exercise. Ortiz was especially impressive in the vault, placing third with a 9.375.
“It feels so awesome to know that my team is going to be advancing to sectionals,” Ortiz said. “Losing Sidney last minute really stinks because it happened to her last year too. We are just going to keep chucking through and keeping a positive mental attitude about it.”
Also impressive was Gorniak, who managed to finish one spot ahead of Ortiz in the vault with a 9.450 while placing fourth in the uneven parallel bars with 8.750. Gorniak said the team worked on preparing for pressure situations at the regional.
“We’ve done a lot of pressure sets all week and we had a lot of girls step up this week,” Gorniak said. “We really worked on our landings lately and that’s the thing that can win a meet for you or lose a meet for you. I talked myself through the vault and just stuck it.”
Senior Andrea Schwartz was the overall winner of the uneven parallel bars coming in at 9.050, the only competitor to break the nine-point mark.
Host York was the regional runners-up with a score of 139.15.
On Tuesday, Batavia vaulters Megan McGee (fourth) and Courtney Glassman (fifth) moved on from the Glenbard West Regional to the Feb. 5 sectional that also will be held at West. Senior Sarah Ganster advanced in the all-around.
Geneva is set to host its own regional Friday.
St. Charles and Geneva qualifiers will join the Batavia group at the Glenbard West Sectional.