Gymnastics: DeKalb-Sycamore shines on beam, takes sectional title at Lake Park

Lake Park a close second, Glenbard West third

DeKalb’s Gianna Goff performs her floor exercise routine at the Lake Park girls gymnastics sectional meet in Roselle on Monday, February 6, 2023.

ROSELLE – It’s a blessing to have a daughter who also is your team’s beam coach.

DeKalb-Sycamore girls gymnastics coach Andy Morreale brought Jessica Morreale to the Lake Park Sectional on Monday night for the first time this season, and it helped the team stay on the beam to get past the host Lancers, 143.675 to 142.25.

She certainly knows what it takes to shine on the beam with the season on the line. Morreale placed second on beam at state 12 years ago. That was a season in which she also placed second on bars and the all-around in 2011.

“That’s what happens when you bring the beam coach,” Andy Morreale said. “They all stay on.”

DeKalb-Sycamore junior Annabella Simpson didn’t qualify in the individual event competition on beam last week at the Wheaton Warrenville South Regional, but it didn’t stop her from posting the best score Monday with a 9.3. Glenbard North senior Carly Bachara won beam with a 9.275.

“Having do to it last (event) was nerve-wracking, because we were all cold,” Simpson said. “And we haven’t been doing very well on beam the last couple meets. It was definitely what we needed. We were all very happy.”

DeKalb-Sycamore scored 2.1 points better on beam than it did at the regional, and all four of its all-arounders outscored last week’s totals. Simpson (36.975) led the way and was second overall. Eden Russell was fifth (36.575) to qualify for state in the all-around along with Simpson. Leah Benson (36) and Gianna Goff (34.025) also came through in the clutch. Russell won bars with a 9.425.

“I train with them, but it’s a whole new world when you’re in front of everybody and nerves kick in,” Jessica Morreale said. “I know what they need and their corrections and what keeps them in the zone.”

Simpson liked having a familiar face and the accompanying comfort it provided.

“I’m so used to when I have her there with me in practice,” Simpson said. “Hearing her words encouraged me and definitely helped me today. And I was able to use that and what I was doing in practice and show it off here.”

DeKalb’s Molly Kuntzi performs her floor exercise routine at the Lake Park girls gymnastics sectional meet in Roselle on Monday, February 6, 2023.

The Lancers will now play the waiting game to see if they can advance as an at-large team. They should know by late Thursday night.

“We had about a two-point lift from our regional,” Lancers coach Jake Luketin said. “I think we have a good shot. I’ve been saying all year this is a great group of girls. They’re really young. Our theme right now is we want be early because I know next year we’re going to have a great team but if we can get in one year early that gives them that experience a year early.”

Julia Bartnik won vault with a 9.65 and all-around with a 37.425 to lead Lake Park. While she knows she’s going to Palatine, she really feels the Lancers deserve to get there and represent as a team.

“I’m so happy with our team’s performance,” she said. “We did so well today and really well under pressure. We’ll have practice this week. I’m excited to see what happens and see where our team goes.”

Glenbard West (141.275) was third and followed by Glenbard North (139.775), Wheaton Warrenville co-op (137.35) and Oak Park-River Forest (133.475).

Skylar Oh won floor with a 9.4 for the Hilltoppers. She also advanced on bars with a 9.3. Teammate Samantha Hopper was third on vault with a 9.475 and fourth on floor with a 9.175 to qualify as well.

Wheaton Warrenville co-op’s Haylie Hinckley was second on vault with a 9.5 and fifth on floor with a 9.15 to qualify for state.

DeKalb’s Eden Russell performs her floor exercise routine at the Lake Park girls gymnastics sectional meet in Roselle on Monday, February 6, 2023.

St. Charles co-op’s Rachel Nicastro doesn’t live too far from DeKalb-Sycamore so it’s cool that she agreed to stick to the beam theme of the night.

She took third with a 9.3 and is going to state for the second consecutive year. It hasn’t been an easy one on the body for the sophomore.

“The season has been very challenging on my body,” Nicastro said. “No major injuries but my shins have been really bad and my heels are really bad. I’ve had to push really hard in practice and work really hard on all events. Fortunately beam is my strongest event and I get to go two times, which is exciting especially as a sophomore.”

She took 12th in the all-around with a 35.85.

Glenbard North’s Brooklyn McQuillan was third in the all-around with a 36.875. She also tied for second on bars with a 9.35 and on floor with a 9.275.