HOFFMAN ESTATES – Prairie Ridge gymnastics coach Lee Battaglia fudged the scores a little bit with his team heading into the final rotation Monday night.
Battaglia told his girls they trailed Fremd by one point. Prairie Ridge, a co-op team of District 155 schools, had the vault remaining, while Fremd had balance beam.
“Then we looked at the [scoreboard] and we were only down two-tenths,” junior Rachael Underwood said. “We were like, ‘He always does this to us.’ We went out with the mindset we really had to go hard anyway.”
Prairie Ridge scored well in the vault to wrap up the Conant Gymnastics Sectional Meet team title with 148.525 points, comfortably ahead of second-place Fremd's 147.675 at William N. Perry Gymnasium. The Wolves automatically qualify as one of eight teams for the IHSA State Meet next weekend at Palatine High School.
“I lied to them,” Battaglia said, smiling. “Rachael will score just enough to win. I have to do that with this group, they don’t want to go too much overboard sometimes.”
Underwood, a junior at Cary-Grove, won the all-around with 38.4 points and also won the vault (9.75), uneven bars (9.55) and balance beam (9.7). She also qualified in the floor exercise at 9.4.
“Rachael had a great meet,” Battaglia said. “Maddie [Solka] was good and Kendall [Rumford] had a really good meet. Overall, our performance wasn’t great, but we did enough to win.”
Prairie Ridge hopes to have a shot at the team title next week, even without junior Riley Mahoney, who is out with a right knee injury. Battaglia said Mahoney was scheduled for minor surgery on the knee Tuesday morning and will not compete later this spring in the club season.
Jacobs junior Ally Riedel was thrilled to earn a trip to state after a rough year with her right foot. Riedel suffered multiple broken bones in the foot during her floor exercise routine at last year’s sectional and underwent two surgeries the past year.
Riedel tied for fifth in floor, which qualifies, and should make it in all-around, where she was sixth (36.575). The top five finishers automatically qualify, with the top 12 scores after all four sectionals are completed earning at-large berths. The Conant Sectional was the first of the four.
“I’m so happy, I couldn’t be any happier right now,” said Riedel, who competed individually. “I went into this meet trying not to put pressure on myself. Whatever happened was going to happen. Now that it’s over, I’m so excited.”
Solka (36.55) was seventh and Rumford was eighth (36.5) all-around, scores which Battaglia thinks will get them to state as individuals.
“I did not have my best meet, but I’m hoping it sends me to state,” said Solka, a sophomore at C-G. “My vault went really well. That’s the event I’ve improved most on.”