Gymnastics: Defending champs Haylie Hinckley of Wheaton co-op, Downers Grove co-op team return with high hopes

Wheaton Co-op’s Haylie Hinckley competes at the Conant gymnastics invite Saturday December 10, 2022 in Schaumburg.

Besides winning the girls gymnastics state championship on floor exercise last season, Wheaton co-op senior Haylie Hinckley gained another great triumph.

Hinckley regained her passion for the sport.

“(State) definitely did change my perspective of it,” said Hinckley, who joined the team as a sophomore. “(Head coach Maureen Kermend and assistants Joe Kermend and Melissa Sender) helped me gain my love for gymnastics again because when I started doing gymnastics again in high school, I really did not like it.”

Hinckley and defending state team champion Downers Grove co-op return with high aspirations. The Trostangs have the state’s two highest scores so far in winning Hinsdale Central’s Kim Estoque Ianvitational Saturday (146.325 points) and Glenbard West’s Hilltopper Invite Dec. 2 143.90 to 143.45 over Vernon Hills, last year’s state runners-up.

“It was all of the teamwork that helped (last season),” Downers Grove co-op junior Genevieve Herion said. “We want to stay connected. We want to stay together and we want to keep the energy up. We want to keep the legacy going and work hard.”

Hinckley’s 9.65 on floor made her the first girls gymnast from Wheaton Warrenville South/Wheaton Central/Wheaton Warrenville to capture a state title. Hinckley also was an all-state fifth in all-around (36.95) and ninth in the vault finals (9.4). Also a state qualifier in diving and track as a high jumper, Hinckley initially had diving as her primary sport. She finished 13th in the state finals Nov. 11 with coaching help from Joe Kermend.

That all changed after state gymnastics. Hinckley will compete as a gymnast for NCAA Division III Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

“I really love performing. And diving, I don’t like being cold (on deck),” Hinckley said laughing. “I really just enjoy performing and the team aspect and love all of my teammates. I want to have that in college, too.”

Downers Grove co-op topped Vernon Hills 145.575 to 144.975 for the 2023 state title. Herion was all-state in all-around (3rd, 37.40) and uneven parallel bars (tied for 3rd, 9.35) and reached event finals on floor exercise (10th, 8.65), vault (tied for 10th, 9.375) and balance beam (11th, 8.775).

Senior Madison Piotrowski and sophomores Kaelyn Landry and Emilie Kuchta were part of the state lineup and individual sectional qualifiers. New contributors include freshman Edie Condon and junior Allison Palansky. On Saturday, Herion won all-around (37.70), vault (9.6), beam (9.45) and floor (9.3) and shared first on uneven bars with Condon (9.35). At the Hilltopper Invite, Herion shared first on uneven bars (9.45) and was second in all-around (37.30).

“We’re just going to take it one meet at a time, no high expectations, just sort of bring some of the kids that were (state) alternates last year into the lineup,” Downers Grove co-op coach Kristyn Campos said.

Wheaton co-op (139.65 Dec. 6), Glenbard West (137.25 Dec. 2) and Lyons Township also were 2023 sectional team qualifiers. The Hilltoppers’ 141.275 at sectionals missed a return trip to state by .40. Other returning 2023 individual state qualifiers are Wheaton co-op senior Jordan Wach (all-around, vault, floor), Hinsdale South junior Anya Patel (all-around, uneven bars, floor), Glenbard West junior Leah Chapski (vault) and Wheaton Academy senior Graci Weems (all-around, beam, floor), competing individually as a transfer student from Geneva’s third-place state team. Weems was ninth in the floor finals (9.15) and Patel was 13th on uneven bars (9.125).

Returning 2023 sectional qualifiers include Glenbard East senior Emma Iwanisyzn, Glenbard South senior Abby DePorter, Wheaton co-op junior Sammie Purser, Glenbard West sophomore Mackenzie Mason, LT seniors Emily Tucker and Elle Rockrohr and juniors Emmy Bertucci and Dahlia Highland, York senior Danielle Chavez and junior Hayley Schiltz, Willowbrook senior Mia McBride and junior Naomi Campbell, Morton senior Jadelynn Lopez, Riverside-Brookfield junior Tanya Hertogs, Hinsdale Central senior Hazel Hamelka, junior Erica Driscoll and sophomore Lane Inabnit and Hinsdale South junior Casey Fundator and sophomore Maeve McCracken. Glenbard West junior Grace Flint should have reached sectionals if not for a season-ending broken leg Jan. 7.

Senior and first-year high-school gymnast Angela Stangarone has increased fortunes for York (139.50 Saturday at Hersey Invite). The Dukes won Hinsdale South’s Hornet Invite Nov. 22 (135.30) with Stangarone winning vault (9.5) and uneven bars (8.9). She achieved a third-place 36.65 all-around Saturday.