High school gymnastics: Prairie Ridge co-op's Kim cleared to compete at state meet

Senior hopes pain of hip injury will be bearable

Prairie Ridge co-op's Maddy Kim competes on the uneven bars Feb. 7 during the Conant Sectional in Hoffman Estates.
Prairie Ridge co-op's Maddy Kim competes on the uneven bars Feb. 7 during the Conant Sectional in Hoffman Estates.

Prairie Ridge gymnast Maddy Kim has run the emotional gamut over the past week.

The senior had a subpar performance at the Conant Sectional, thanks to a nasty fall on her balance beam dismount at the Hoffman Estates Regional the previous week.

Kim thought she could tough it out one more week for the IHSA Girls Gymnastics State Meet on Friday and Saturday at Palatine High School, but a trip to her orthopedic surgeon and an MRI on Monday revealed a fracture in her left hip.

“I started bawling because I was really upset at not being able to finish what I started three years ago,” Kim said.

Better news came Wednesday. Another doctor, a hip trauma specialist, told her the hip is not fractured and that there is a bad bone bruise to the pelvis, along with significant swelling. If she could gut it out, she could compete.

Kim was thrilled to go back to Crystal Lake Gymnastics Training Center on Wednesday and prepare for her fourth state meet. She will not get to defend her uneven bars state title, but she will compete in the vault and in the all-around.

“He said it was OK to try and compete on Friday,” Kim said. “He said it would hurt, and I probably wouldn’t be at my best, but he wasn’t going to stop me from trying. I’m going to see how practices Wednesday and Thursday go and see if I’m ready or not to compete.”

Kim joined Prairie Ridge’s co-op team – which draws athletes from Prairie Ridge, Cary-Grove, Crystal Lake Central and Crystal Lake South – three years ago for its second team state championship in a row. The Wolves added another in 2017, then finished as runner-up last year with four juniors as the maintsays.

Ciara Ryan and Clancy Raupp battled offseason injuries and left the team. Ryan wanted to get healthy and prepare for her career at Northern Illinois University. Kira Karlblom, with whom Kim had been teammates as long as both girls could remember, stepped away from gymnastics. That left Kim with freshmen Gracie Willis and Sydney Hallsten to lead this year’s team.

Hallsten won the sectional all-around title last week and qualified in four events. Willis qualified in the all-around and three events. The Wolves came up just short of a team berth and a shot at an eighth consecutive team state trophy.

“If healthy, Maddy Kim would have been top three in state all-around, no doubt,” said Wolves coach Lee Battaglia, who also coaches the girls at CLGTC. “If she didn’t [injure] her hip, she would have hit everything. I’m sure of it, because that’s what she does.”

Battaglia felt the missed practice time last week affected Kim. She was off-center on her balance beam dismount at the regional and hit the floor hard. The injury kept her from her regular work during the week, and she fell during sectionals on the bars while attempting a Geinger, where she swings up, releases the bar and performs a flip with a half-twist, then regrabs the bar. Few girls even attempt that skill at the state meet.

Kim added the Geinger this year and routinely hit the skill. In fact, her bars set was so impressive, Battaglia noticed something around the gym each afternoon. As Kim’s turn to do bars came up in practices, the rest of the gymnasts all stopped what they were doing and watched. She was unaware it was happening.

“I told her, and she was shocked,” Battaglia said. “She would have her back turned to the bars, thinking about her routine. The Level 3s, 4s, 5s and 6s, they would always stop. Everybody would stop and watch Maddy’s routine. I’d say 90 to 95 percent of the time she would hit it. Maddy would dismount, and they would go back to whatever they were doing.”

Battaglia feels all three of his competitors are threats in the all-around, which is decided Friday. The individual event finals, which takes the top 10 and ties, will be completed Saturday.

Kim may not be in top form, but she gets one more shot on high school’s biggest stage.

“She gives 100 percent every day,” Battaglia said. “That’s Maddy in life. She does it with everything she does. When you have a person like that, you can’t ask for anything else.”

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