Prep Sports

Gymnastics: Wheaton co-op wins meet, but Lake Park takes third straight DuKane Conference title

Lake Park senior gymnast Paula Naronowicz finished second on floor exercise at the DuKane Conference Meet for the third straight year Friday.

Naronowicz also was atop the podium for the third straight year for what matters most to her — another team conference title.

Although Wheaton co-op edged Lake Park 140.975 to 140.35 for the meet title in a tight team-team battle with Geneva’s 140.15, the Lancers captured the overall DKC title by virtue of dual-meet results.

“I feel like keeping the legacy going, that’s a really good thing to leave the seniors off with and also the incoming freshmen showing this is who we are and this is what we can do,” Naronowicz said.

“We could have improvements but I think we had one of our better meets with consistency. Regardless of second place or not (tonight), I think we improved overall as a team, not scorewise necessarily but consistency.”

Wheaton co-op and Lake Park tied overall because the Lancers had won the DKC dual portion at 5-0 with Wheaton co-op second at 4-1.

The Lancers owned the overall tiebreaker of having the higher average among their second, third and fourth-highest DKC dual scores. They only needed to finish at least second to win the overall crown.

“Three in a row is great. We love it,” Lake Park coach Jake Luketin said. “Of course, it’s not necessarily the way we want to win but I think it shows the girls what they need to work on and some direction going forward.”

Wheaton co-op also swept all of the individual titles. Sophomore Haylie Hinckley won all-around (36.45), vault (9.5), uneven parallel bars (9.15) and floor (9.425) and senior Maleah Crowley captured balance beam (9.375). Wheaton co-op and Lake Park meet at the Lake Park Regional Tuesday.

“We tried to celebrate (winning Friday) and still not to take anything away from Lake Park. Celebrate what we did but also give credit where credit’s due,” Wheaton co-op coach Maureen Kermend said. “The biggest win for us was feeling strong going into our regional. That’s what our goal was because we knew Lake Park was going to win the conference (overall title).”

The Lancers also excelled individually as Julia Bartok (beam) and Celi Keefe (uneven bars) joined Naronowicz in second-place finishes.

Naronowicz also was third in all-around and vault (9.275) and sixth on beam (8.975). Adding to the Lancers’ top-five finishes senior Anna Jung was fourth on floor (9.225) and uneven bars (8.9).

The previous two years, Naronowicz finished second on floor to Lake Park senior teammates. These are the first top-five conference medals for Jung, who has worked her way up from the junior varsity as a freshman.

“It was really nervous excitement because we wanted to defend the championship, but I think it all helped us come together,” Jung said.

“After three years of watching and cheering for everybody else, I love everyone, it really was nice that all of the hard work I put in for four years finally paid off.”

Hinckley and Crowley have been huge additions as first-year high school gymnasts. Senior Ashley Huang also was third on floor (9.3) and tied for fifth on uneven bars (8.875).

“I was really proud of everyone. I really didn’t expect (the victories) especially because of beam because my beam’s a little off but it was good to win,” Hinckley said.

“(Beam) felt really good. “I was afraid of doing my last skill (on beam) just because I didn’t want to fall after such a good routine but then I remembered everything I was training.”

Geneva just missed its season high.

Geneva sophomore Brooke Lussnig was second in all-around (36.30) and vault (9.375) and fourth on beam (9.05).

“Last year I did a tuck Yurchenko and now I’m doing a pike,” Lussnig said. “I was really happy to hit that beam routine because I felt a lot of pressure going last (for the team) and I knew I had to do it for the team so we could have a great meet.”

St. Charles co-op (131.30), Batavia (129.55) and Glenbard North (125.55) finished fourth through sixth.

Batavia junior Grace Cooper finished fifth on beam in her first meet since suffering a stress fracture in her left knee during warmups for the Oswego Invite Dec. 29. Cooper, who also competed on uneven bars, was medically cleared Wednesday and hasn’t given up hope of being an all-rounder by Tuesday’s regional.