PALATINE – Prairie Ridge coach Lee Battaglia sensed his team’s lead over Lyons Township was not large enough after Friday’s first day of the IHSA Girls Gymnastics State Meet.
“Point 25, that’s nothing,” Battaglia said.
Battaglia hoped Rachael Underwood and Riley Mahoney, who had five entries between them, could raise the Wolves’ score Saturday. Those two performed well, but Lyons, with eight entries, leaped over Prairie Ridge, improving by 0.575 to take the team title with 149.625. The Wolves, who were third last year, were runners-up with 149.3.
“They were coming in on the low end with those two 9.2s on [balance] beam,” Battaglia said. “I was scared about that. They were the better team tonight. We were better yesterday, they were better tonight.”
Katie Carling’s 9.425 on beam tied the two teams at 149.3. Michelle Cozza’s 9.375 put the Lions at 149.475 heading into floor exercise, the final event.
Mahoney, battling a sore back she tweaked early in the week, threw in a different routine in an attempt to boost her score and landed some skills, but she received 9.4 on floor, her same score from qualifying. Kelsy Kurfirst scored 9.725 to add more to the Lions’ score and win the floor exercise state title.
“It was super nerve-racking,” Mahoney said. “I was first up, I’ve never competed like that before and had to hit the routine to put our team in front of them. I tried my hardest, We really wanted first place, but in our hearts we know we did the best we could do as a team. Lyons went out there and they nailed it, so you have to give it to them.”
Underwood tied for second in the all-around Friday, then tied for second on uneven bars and tied for third on vault Saturday.
“We wanted to win it as a team, but we held it together and did the best we could, and I’m really happy about how we did,” Underwood said. “They snuck up on us, but we had a great overall past two days.”
Lyons coach Kari Karubas said she had trouble sleeping Friday as she searched for changes the Lions could make to find extra points. Lyons added points in four of its eight performances Saturday.
“We needed to capitalize on every opportunity to balance that nerves of finals,” Karubas said. “I woke up this morning and I knew we could do it. Or at least we had to go down swinging. These are some of the most talented girls I’ve ever had and I feel really lucky as the coach. I’m so pleased. … I’m still a little awestruck about what went down here.”