ELMHURST – The challenge for the St. Charles co-op gymnastics team Friday night at the IHSA York Regional wasn’t so much the other teams, but instead themselves.
St. Charles won the same regional a year earlier and returned a talented, veteran squad that has steadily improving throughout the year, evidenced by a second-place performance at the Upstate Eight Conference Invite. It the team performed up to expectations, chances were good the regional crown would be theirs.
With a berth to the tough Wheaton Warrenville South Sectional on the line, St. Charles rose to the challenge, finishing first in the meet with a 147.00, beating second-place Glenbard West to advance.
The victory means a shot at the IHSA state meet, but St. Charles will have to go through UEC rival Geneva, who captured its own regional Thursday night. The Vikings won both a dual meet against St. Charles along with the UEC Conference Invite.
St. Charles is hoping third time’s a charm when it comes to taking down the rival Vikings.
“I think after tonight, obviously if we’re consistent and bring the same game that we brought tonight then we will be fine,” St. Charles coach Amy Lill said. “We’re just going to focus on ourselves and getting our best team score and not going to worry about anything else.”
St. Charles got off to a flying start with all five performers placing above 9 on the vault. Senior Cathyrn Gotlund stuck the landing on the second of her two jumps, earning a 9.4 to lead the team. The team-high score was good enough for third place for Gotlund.
Gotlund also spearheaded the balance beam for St. Charles, landing a back-flip on the beam before sticking a tough landing. Gotlund finished just ahead of second-lace Amber Broucek with a 9.4.
“I’m really proud of all of them – Cathryn has worked really hard on beam,” Lill said. “We changed around her practice on beam and it was just nice to see hitting at the right times and seeing her working really hard.”
The star of the night for St. Charles was Rachel Dugan. The sophomore ended the meet by placing second in the floor exercise behind teammate Kelly Gorniak (9.575) with a 9.5.
The narrow miss in the floor vaulted Dugan to the all-around championship with a 37.5, which placed her just ahead of second-place Broucek (37.375).
Dugan was tops in the uneven parallel bars with a 9.375 while Gorniak was third with an 8.9.
Sydney Copeland also advanced to sectionals by finishing fifth with a 8.625.
“We’ve definitely been improving our score over time and they’ve just done an awesome job of just putting it all together at the right time,” Lill said. “I was really proud of their progress and they’re really peaking at the right time.”