PALATINE – Rachael Underwood completed the third tumbling pass in her floor exercise routine and thrust her hands into the air.
Underwood’s Prairie Ridge gymnastics teammates, a few feet behind her off the padded floor, leaped and screamed, knowing she had completed a strong routine, one that would put the team in first place at the state gymnastics meet.
It also helped Underwood finish second in the all-around, which was completed Friday at Palatine High School. Underwood scored 38.55 and tied with Lyons Township’s Kelsy Kurfirst for second place. Carmel’s Lauren Feely (38.7) won the all-around.
Prairie Ridge has 149.300 points, with Lyons right behind at 149.050 headed into the individual event finals, which start at 5:45 p.m. today. Team scores can improve with individuals’ scores in the finals. Prairie Ridge, a co-op team which draws athletes from Cary-Grove, Crystal Lake Central and Prairie Ridge, had Underwood in the vault and uneven bars, and Riley Mahoney in the vault, balance beam and floor exercise.
“Overall it’s very exciting,” said Underwood, who was third all-around last year. “It’s a great feeling. We all tried our best and mostly hit our routines. I’m really proud of myself, I was 4 for 4 on my routines and I’m happy with that. It was about the best I can do.”
Mahoney was disappointed in her uneven bars routine, where she fell, which knocked the Wolves’ team points down. Still, she battled through a sore back she hurt in practice on Tuesday. The injury limited her preparation and Prairie Ridge coach Lee Battaglia was not certain on Thursday she could compete at all.
“It hurts so bad, it’s throbbing,” Mahoney said. “I took some Advil and had Icy Hot on it. With all the adrenaline while I was competing, I didn’t feel it. We got done what we needed to get done.”
Mahoney will try to gut out one more day before resting her back. She had an ice bag on her back and another on her left shoulder.
“I’m going to have to do it for myself and for my team,” Mahoney said. “Especially after my mess-up on bars. I let myself and my team down there. I did hit my two routines after that.”
Prairie Ridge has five entries in the finals with Mahoney and Underwood; Lyons has eight entries with which it could add points.
“Rachael was 4 for 4 and had a great meet, that’s what I expect from her,” Battaglia said. “We had the one major mistake, but that cost us a point. Riley didn’t mean to do it. She had a bad mount and was kind of fighting it the whole way.”
Battaglia feels like Underwood and Mahoney can improve the Wolves’ team score by three- to seven-tenths of a point.
“That .25 is really nothing,” Battaglia said. “I really feel good about the events we’re in and moving up. I just don’t know how much they can move up. We have a shot.”
Underwood and Mahoney will add a full twist in their Yurchenko vaults that could boost each score by one-tenth. They will add skills in other events that also can increase the value.
“We might need a couple more tenths,” Underwood said.