Senior Campbell Hayes is enjoying her highest scores in four seasons with the Riverside-Brookfield girls gymnastics team, but even she wouldn’t mind a break.
On Thursday, Dec. 8, the Bulldogs became the state’s first team with six varsity meets since opening Nov. 23.
“I love competing. I think a lot of us do, but it’s been kind of hard,” Hayes said. “We haven’t had time to practice or improve the things the judges have told us to improve.”
When the Bulldogs resume action Dec. 28, they should build upon a season-high 128.35 points at Hinsdale South that’s already near their goal of reaching the 130s and last year’s season high of 128.95.
“We’re using this 20-day (competition) break for new skills,” second-year RBHS coach Karyn Domzalski said. “The girls have been great about it and nobody’s been trying to push hard skills yet. They have to be consistent with what they already have.”
Hayes, senior Olivia Weimer, and juniors Amelia Huebner and Katie Polanski comprised last year’s four all-arounders at the Sandburg Regional, scoring 124.90. The team has added freshmen Sydney Lindenberg, Amber O’Brien, Sofia Perry and Nathaley Philemy.
All-arounder Lindenberg and Perry have been consistent varsity contributors. O’Brien, sidelined by an ankle injury, should contribute on uneven parallel bars and vault.
With several gymnasts performing at a school concert Thursday, seniors Olga Orszulak and Sierra Azfar were promoted from the junior varsity and helped RBHS (4-3) win at Glenbard South 112.35-110.15.
At Hinsdale South, Hayes (33.20) and Weimer (32.00) finished 1-2 in all-around. Event winners were Hayes on balance beam (8.9) and uneven bars (8.2), Weimer on floor exercise (8.7) and Polanski on vault (8.7).
“We easily could have had 130 and we were just all over the place on beam. Again I think it was the girls burnt from too many meets,” Domzalski said.
Several Bulldogs should contend for the team’s first individual sectional berths since senior Lacey Smith in 2015.
“I’m trying to get all of the (skill) requirements I need,” Hayes said. “Floor is probably the thing I love to compete most. I have a new routine and I love doing it. I have to get a twisting skill.”
Lyons Township sophomore Olivia Kalata wants to build upon qualifying for the 2016 state meet on vault.
“I would love to bring my team with me (this season) and if I can’t do that I’d love to bring some real talented individuals,” Kalata said. “I still think that vault is my most consistent event, but I would really like to get beam up there because I love beam. I’d like it to be a staple in my gymnastics.”
Kalata, junior Julia Cozzi, seniors Cara Rasmussen and Brinn McDowell and sophomore Alana Prinz return from last year’s Hinsdale Central Regional lineup that scored 134.975 and missed advancing to sectionals as a team by .15.
Also back are senior Jackie Rigley, who saw varsity action, and sophomore Josie Medema. Program newcomers are sophomores Micaleigh Dowling and Grace Leonard and freshman Jannetta Saban.
After four meets, the Lions have scored a season-high 128.925 at home Dec. 7 in losing to Oak Park and River Forest’s 131.475 in their second West Suburban Conference Silver dual. On Nov. 29, LTHS’s 128.25 beat York (126.50) and lost to Glenbard West (139.95).
“They are gaining strength, gaining knowledge. We just have to stop competing to get more skills (from practice),” LTHS coach Kari Karubas said. “We have to be safe and accept the lower scores (for now). I always try to train through the season so I don’t look at score. I look at improvement, athleticism with their gymnastics. Of course, winning is wonderful but we won’t get there unless we take care of those little things.”
At state, Kalata tied for 25th on vault (9.2) with her pike Tsukahara after a season-best 9.325 at sectionals. Cozzi competed at 2015 state for the fifth-place team finisher as an all-arounder and was an individual state qualifier on balance beam.
Against OPRF, Kalata scored a season-high 35.225 in all-around and won vault (8.825) and floor exercise (8.95). Cozzi, who started late after diving, and Rasmussen also have been competing as all-arounders.