New Trier Gymnasts Finish in Eighth Place at State Finals

It was New Trier's first appearance at state finals in more than a decade.

Although they finished 8th as a team with a 141.775, New Trier coach Jennifer Pistorius was not disappointed with her team’s first appearance at the state finals since 1995. The Trevians overcame some early nerves and eight falls put together a performance they can build on for next season.

“I tried to tell them that it was crazy and loud at the state meet,” said Pistorius, who had brought individuals to compete in the finals but never her whole team.

“It was a bit overwhelming for them at first. But it was great. We have a lot to build off of. They will have this experience to build off of.”

The Trevians had three individuals finish in the top 31 in the all-around. Kerry Scafidi was 18th with a 36.45, Elana Benishay was 28th with a 35.35 and Samantha Stoddart was 30th with a 34.925. Benishay also qualified for the finals on the beam, where she fell badly during her warmup, but recovered during her performance to finish 8th with a 9.25.

“I split the beam in my warmup,” Benishay said. “I thought to myself ‘You split it know and you never do that twice in a row.’ I was still nervous, but I knew I wouldn’t fall again today.”

Stevenson’s Ali Castriano ended her gymnastics’ career on a high, yet tearful note, leading the Patriots to a second place finish at the girls’ state gymnastics finals Friday and Saturday at Palatine.

Castriano finished fourth in the all-around with a 38.05 to spark Stevenson to a 149.175, to finish behind Carmel, which won its third consecutive state title with a score of 151.175.

Castriano came back in the individual events and finished fourth in the vault with a 9.725, fifth on the bars with a 9.45, tied for second on the beam with a 9.55 and finished 7th on the floor.

“It is sad because I am competing for the last time ever,” said a tearful Castriano, who will attend with Wisconsin or Michigan next year, but compete in gymnastics.

 “I am really excited I went right for eight in the last two days and that is all I could ask for. And I had my best beam routine of the year.”

The Patriots were perfect in their routines on Friday, going 20-for-20. Stevenson coach Judy Harwood could not have been more pleased with her squad with included Castriano, along with Becca Feltman-Frank, Elizabeth Shank, Esther Kim, Riley Treblico, Dani Webb, Alyssa Weisberg, Theresa Wojton and Lauren Whalen.

“What a dream,” Harwood said. “It was very surprising. We came in expecting to be fourth and hoping for a chance for third.  We had our best meet at the right time.”

“We wanted a podium spot,” Castriano said. “That was our goal all year.”

Prairie Ridge’s fabulous freshmen of Rachael Underwood and Riley Mahoney helped deliver the Wolves their first state trophy with a third-place score of 148.175.

“I am very happy,” Prairie Ridge coach Lee Battaglia said. “Our highest score ever and third in the state. That’s just fantastic. We had a few minor misses, but they did a great job. And we have almost the entire team coming back next year.”

Prairie Ridge should come into next year as the favorite with Underwood, who was third in the all-around with a 38.10 and Mahoney, who was 6th with a 37.75 as the anchors. The Wolves will lose Nikki Novak, who was 22nd in the all-around with a 36.05, but will return Dylann Perrone, Danielle Dyra, Jada Berkland and Savanna Mensching.

The Wolves also were represented in the individual finals. Underwood was tied for second on the beam with a 9.55, finished 6th on the vault with a 9.70 and was 9th on the beam; Novak was 7th on the vault while Mahoney was 8th in the vault.

“Everything went pretty well for me,” Underwood said.. “I have been consistent. We got the school-record and third place trophy, so things went very well for us.”

Fremd and Sydney Plichta made the most out of the Vikings’ state-record 20th consecutive appearance at the state finals.

Plichta, who is a freshman, finished tied for third on the parallel bars. Her performance along with Shannon Lemajeur, who was 21st in the all-around, gave Fremd a fourth-place finish with a 146.55.

“It was really exciting,” said Plichta, who tied for third on the bars with a 9.50 and finished 7th on the beam.

“It was extremely fun to be out there as a freshman. My team helped me so much.”

The Vikings also got strong performances from Stephanie Uhrich and Stephanie Gallo, who both just missed qualifying on the bars along with Emily Pinderski and Christine Jensen.

“It was a great finish to a great season,” said Fremd coach Tim Hamman, who was in his first year as head coach of the Vikings.

 “I am glad that things worked out the way they did. Really it was the girls more than anything. They have tremendous character and that is what made them so successful this year.”

Lake Forest got the most out of its small squad of just five gymnasts. The Scouts, who used all five as all-arounders, were able to put together one of their best meets of the year to finish fifth with a 144.50.

“Our goal was to place in the top five and we did that,” said Lake Forest coach Robin Straus, whose team was second in the state last year.

 “We ranked seventh in team scores after sectionals, so we knew that we had the potential. And our girls performed very well. We just didn’t have the depth we have had in past years.”

Kylie Carlson came up big for the Scouts, scoring a 37.475 to tie for 7th in the all-around. She also finished tied for 5th on the bars with a 9.45 and third on the floor with a 9.60.

“We were so excited to make it here as a team,” Carlson said. “We were trying to do the most of what we had when we go here. We needed everyone. We were small but mighty.”

Katherine Mckeon also came up big for the Scouts, finishing 13th in the all-around with a 37.15 and 8th on the bars while Becky Moccia finished 25th in the all-around. Lake Forest also got strong performances from Laura Blake and Carly Schmidt.

Deerfield’s Christine Stitcher fell a bit short of her expectations at the state meet. After an impressive showing at the sectionals where she was able to qualify for the all-around at the state meet, Stitcher experienced a couple of falls to finish tied for 26th with a 35.525.

“She had a little trouble out there,” Deerfield coach Carol Myers said. “But I thought she did a real nice routine in her floor. Christine didn’t do a pass she wanted to do, but she was smart enough at the last pass to add a flip-flop to add her bonus in. She didn’t get the score I thought she could get.

But we are both looking forward to next year. With her experience, she should do even better.”

Palatine’s Nicole Kuksuk and Abby Alden also qualified to state. But the pair failed to make the 10 in their events move on to the individual finals. Kuksuk was 32nd on the vault and 26th on the floor while Alden just missed on the beam, where she finished 13th.

DeKalb’s Alyssa Lopez scored a 38.45 to edge Carmel’s Kristin Mirski, who finished with a 38.40 to win the state all-around title. Carmel’s Sarah Cohen-Smith won the vault with a 9.875, Glenbard North’s Amanda Quinn and Lyons’ Kelsy Kurfirst won the bars with a 9.60, Carmel’s Laura Feely won the bean with a 9.575 and Lopez and Mirski won the floor with a 9.70.


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