Gymnastics

High school gymnastics: Prairie Ridge co-op's Willis 5th in all-around at state meet

Freshman also advances to Saturday’s finals in 3 events; teammate Kim finishes 7th in all-around

Prairie Ridge freshman Gracie Willis needed one more solid routine on uneven bars to cap a productive day at the IHSA Girls Gymnastics State Meet on Friday in Palatine.

“I was really calm going into it,” Willis said. “I thought, ‘I’ve done this before.’ I didn’t have any negative thoughts. I was just confident and sure of all my skills.”

Willis scored 9.4, which pushed her into a fifth-place finish in the all-around with 37.675 points. She also advanced to Saturday’s finals in the vault, balance beam and floor exercise. Willis will be joined in the vault finals by freshman teammate Sydney Hallsten.

Prairie Ridge senior Maddy Kim scored 37.05 for seventh in the all-around, which was completed Friday. The top 10 finishers in each individual event (plus ties) qualify for Saturday’s finals, which start at 2 p.m.

Prairie Ridge, a co-op team that draws athletes from Prairie Ridge, Cary-Grove, Crystal Lake Central and Crystal Lake South, just missed qualifying as a team at last week’s Conant Sectional. The Wolves had won seven consecutive team trophies (top three). They had three straight state titles, then a runner-up in the past four years.

Willis, who attends Prairie Ridge, scored 9.55 on vault, 9.275 on beam and 9.45 on floor exercise to qualify for those finals.

“It went really well,” Willis said. “Every event was pretty solid. I’m really excited [for the finals]. Just excited to get out and do even better.”

Because Willis fell on bars at the sectional, she did not qualify individually for state in that event. Kim, the defending state bars champion, also fell at the sectional and missed qualifying. Kim battled through a sore left hip from a fall on balance beam at the Hoffman Estates Regional to take seventh in the all-around.

“I only practiced one day this week,” said Kim, who finished 15th in vault Friday. “I was in a lot of pain, but I figured this is my last go. I wanted to try and do my best. Seventh is OK. My beam was one of my best I’ve thrown at state. Every year I always fall, but I stayed on.”

Hallsten, who attends C-G, won the all-around at the sectional but had falls on bars and beam and finished 23rd in Friday’s all-around at 35.875.

“It was an ‘off’ meet for me,” said Hallsten, who fell on beam and whose feet brushed the floor on her bars routine. “I’m usually pretty consistent in vault and did the same thing I always do. Vault is the one event I really wanted to do in the finals.”

Glenbard West’s Maddie Diab won the all-around title at 38.550, just ahead of Maine South’s Caleigh Pistorius and DeKalb’s Maddie Hickey, who tied for second at 38.075.

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