While Lake Forest High School's goal of taking the North Suburban Conference crown became more challenging after a narrow 147.85-146.75 dual meet loss to Stevenson Wednesday, the Scouts chances to achieve a top five finish at the State meet received a boost.
"Half the league championship is determined by dual meet performance and 50 percent is from the conference meet. We'll have to beat them at the conference meet to get a share of the title" said Scouts coach Robin Straus.
This assumes neither the Scouts nor the Patriots stumble in dual meet competition along the way.
On its way to totaling 146.75 points against Stevenson, Lake Forest recorded the "best score in the history of the program," Straus said, erasing the record of 145.54 set a week ago against Libertyville.
Kylie Carlson finished second in the all-around competition with 36.95 points while Katherine McKeon was third (36.80) and Brittany Moccia fourth (36.65) to lead Lake Forest. Those performances have Straus beaming about the team's improved chances in the State meet.
"Any time you have three athletes scoring more than the state qualifying standard (36.3), you have a great performance," Strau said.
Carlson captured the vault competition in a tie with Stevenson's Theresa Wojton scoring 9.6 with Moccia fifth (9.45) and McKeon seventh (9.2).
"We hit the routines well and stood up all the vaults. When you're flipping vaults with the difficulty like our girls do, things can go wrong," said Straus. The complexity of a routine is factored into scoring as points are added for each degree of difficulty.
Floor exercise was the Scouts strongest event as Carlson took second (9.7), Moccia third (9.6) KcKeon fifth (9.5), Katie Meier sixth (9.4) and Melanie Foster seventh (9.2) forcing Stevenson to use a ninth-place score in its total.
"Melanie (Foster) threw a new tumbling pass," said Straus referring to the difficulty added by Foster to improve her score.
On the uneven parallel bars, McKeon captured second (9.2) with Foster fifth (8.9), Carlson seventh (8.65) and Moccia eighth (8.6). The Scouts "stood up all our dismounts," added Straus. Grace Kohlmaier gave Lake Forest added depth in the event participating in her first meet of the season after recovering from an illness.
While Meier grabbed third on the balance beam (9.15) with Carlson fifth (9.0), Moccia sixth (8.95) and McKeon seventh (8.9), it was Lake Forest's weakest event and one where Straus sees opportunity for improvement.
"We need to be cleaner and cut down on our falls," said Straus, referring to the three stumbles in the event.
Straus said she was thrilled with her team's finish in vault and floor exercises with no trips whatsoever and only one in the bars.
When it comes to improving a performance already good enough to be among the state's best, Straus, in her 33rd season coaching Scouts gymnasts, knows what to do.
"We'll get cleaner form and upgrade difficulty," said Straus. "Then we'll be able to settle on what works best."