A season-long search for near perfection ended with Lake Forest High School's girls' gymnastics team making history following a second-place finish at Saturday’s IHSA State Finals in Palatine.
Making the school’s fourth ever trip to the State Meet as a team, the Scouts 148.45 point total outperformed the 1985 squad's third place standing for the best finale since the program began.
The Scouts finished a point behind defending champion Carmel (149.45) and ahead of Schaumburg (147.8). Lake Forest also put fourth place Stevenson (146.95) in its rear view mirror after lagging behind the Patriots in both the Sectional and North Suburban Conference meets.
“This was as close to a perfect meet as we could have,” Scouts coach Robin Straus said after finishing her 33rd season at the helm. “We’ve been one of the top three ranked teams all year. We’ve been a consistent 147 team.”
The squad of Kylie Carlson, Kat McKeon, Melanie Foster, Grace Kohlmaier, Katie Meier and Brittany Moccia contributed to the team victory. Each participated in the four events of Friday's team competition at State.
Only Carlson, McKeon, Foster and Kohlmaier competed as individuals, while McKeon and Carlson were the sole participants in the all-around competition.
“We have a lot of people capable of 9.3’s, 9.4’s and 9.5’s,” Straus said.
When the Scouts used Friday to gain a grip on second place, Saturday became less of an obstacle and more of an opportunity. Lake Forest actually improved its hold on second with stellar individual performances Saturday.
“That tends to happen when the pressure’s off,” Straus said. “We had solid performances (from everyone).”
The message got through to the team.
“She (Straus) told us to have a good time, to have fun,” McKeon said. “She (Straus) said if we support each other, everything will work out.”
That support also played a role in individual achievements. Carlson and McKeon each ascended the victory platform. Carlson collected her second consecutive silver medal in floor exercise at State, while McKeon snared a tie for fourth on the balance beam. Both are just sophomores.
“I did as well as I could,” Carlson said.
Carlson's 9.750 second place score was .25 hundredths of a point behind champion Carmel's Kirstin Mirski (9.775) but a tenth of a point better than last year’s score at State.
“I missed by a quarter (of a point) again,” Carlson said.
Carlson began Saturday's individual finals in fourth place in floor exercise (9.475). With the team's second place finish assured and no chance to catch Carmel as she took the floor for her final routine, she danced to a 9.7 for second place.
“She (Straus) just told me to have fun,” Carlson said.
McKeon barely made the finals in the balance beam, tying for the last spot by .25 hundredths of a point with a 9.125. She improved to 9.425 in her Saturday routine to earn a fourth-place medal tied with Stevenson's Riley Trebilco. That performance also tightened the Scouts’ hold on second place.
“It felt great. I really wanted to do it (secure second place) for the team,” McKeon said. She also finished seventh in the all-around competition with 37.150 points.
Carlson (9.475), Moccia (9.35), McKeon (9.225) and Meier (9.05) started the Scouts off on floor exercise Friday night with a 37.1 team tally. From there, Lake Forest moved to vault where the team hit 37.975 behind McKeon (9.525), Kohlmaier (9.525), Moccia (9.475) and Carlson (9.45).
“We started on floor with solid performances and went to vault with solid performances,” Straus said. “We had a bobble on beam and finished strong on bars.”
Foster (9.325), McKeon (9.125), Moccia (9.15) and Meier (8.625) made the contribution on balance beam (36.225). The Scouts finished the team competition on the uneven parallel bars (36.575) behind Moccia (8.9), Foster (9.175), McKeon (9.275) and Carlson (9.225).