Lifting a storied athletic program to its loftiest position in more than a generation is no easy task but Lake Forest High School gymnasts Kylie Carlson and Kat McKeon have been up for it.
Both seniors heading into the last three weeks of their Scout careers, McKeon and Carlson have helped push the Lake Forest gymnastics dynasty to its zenith knowing nothing less than finishing among the state’s elite each year they competed.
Earlier: Lake Forest Gymnasts Achieve Near Perfection
Undefeated for two years in dual meet competition, the post season begins at 6 p.m. today when Lake Forest hosts the North Suburban Conference Meet where the Scouts are defending champions.
From there they host Regional competition Feb. 2 hoping to make a return trip to the State Meet Feb. 15 and 16 in Palatine.
Though there have been significant contributions made the last four years by a number of gymnasts, Carlson and McKeon have known nothing less than both earning individual honors at the State Meet and leading their team to top finishes.
As a freshman, Carlson was part of a squad finishing eighth four years ago. She teamed with McKeon and others to take second in 2011 only one point away from the state championship. Last year they were fifth.
Just knowing Carlson was on her way to Lake Forest High School gave 34-year veteran Scout Coach Robin Straus strong hope for a brighter future as the 2008-2009 season was drawing to a close.
“We were heating up,” Straus said of the end of the 2009 season. “We knew Kylie (Carlson) was coming and would be in our plans the next season.” Carlson arrived, the Scouts finished eighth and Carlson placed second on floor exercise and seventh all around.
McKeon joined the team the following season and the Scouts jumped to second as they both earned individual medals. Last year Lake Forest was fifth. The next three weeks will be special for Carlson and McKeon because they know it will be their last competitive gymnastics.
“We want to go out as strong as we can,” Carlson said. “We’ve made a lot of progress in four years. It’s hard to believe in (a few) weeks it will be over.”
Though Carlson and McKeon are among the elite gymnasts in Illinois, they have elected not to compete in college. Carlson will enroll at Vanderbilt University in the fall. McKeon has not finalized her choice but knows what she wants next.
“I want to focus on the academic in college,” McKeon said. “This has been great but it takes a lot out of you,” she added about the commitment required by her sport.
Both gymnasts have scores of good memories of both individual and team achievements. They hope to build on all of them in their final meets as Scouts.
“We’ve had fun and when we go into the gym is when we want to make it all happen,” Carlson said. As a veteran of the State Meet, she has learned to appreciate its significance. “You really feel like you’re representing your school, your team.”
Straus has coached a lot of gymnasts in her 34 years at Lake Forest and places McKeon and Carlson on a special plane.
“They both represent Lake Forest High School in the best of ways,” Straus said. “They have truly made the most of their four years. They are strong leaders in the senior class both academically as well as in the gym. They both work extremely hard and set high goals for themselves and their teammates.”
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