Sophomore Lia Christiansen nearly qualified for the state meet in her first season with the Riverside-Brookfield High School girls gymnastics team.
After advancing to sectionals in all-around, floor exercise and uneven parallel bars in 2022, she’s going after berths in all five events this season.
“I’m hoping to qualify in all four events plus all-around, so I have the most chances for going on to state,” Christiansen said. “I think the way I’m going to do that is work on all of my new skills I’ve gotten and improve the ones that I already have.”
With junior Annabel Krueger also a 2022 sectional qualifier and seniors Sarah Lindenberg and Claudia Grusecki and sophomore Reese Phelan also back from the regional lineup, the Bulldogs have a strong base to improve upon last season’s high score of 130.85 points.
Other varsity members include junior Alexa Cavaliere, sophomore Tatiana Hertogs and freshman Kayla Janusz.
“We’re always working for a 130 or higher. That’s been our goal,” RBHS coach Karyn Domzalski said. “Maybe 135 would be our goal this year.”
Last year’s Bulldogs were third at the Downers Grove South Regional (129.975) and the Upstate Eight Conference Meet (130.55) and in the final overall UEC standings.
At the Oswego Sectional, Christiansen tied for sixth on floor (9.05), usually her strongest event, to just miss an automatic state berth by .025 for a top-five finish and the 9.225 at-large state cut.
Christiansen also was 11th in all-around (34.05) and tied for 12th on the uneven bars (8.4) and had a 9.0 vault. Christiansen was the UEC Meet champion in all-around (34.80) and second on balance beam (8.95).
“Watching everybody from other schools compete [last season], it definitely showed me different ways that you can go through the season, different things you can do on each event,” Christiansen said.
In her sectional debut, Krueger was 30th on beam (7.25) and 31st in all-around (30.175) after scoring 32.25 at regionals behind an 8.6 on beam.
“I want to improve everything and do better at sectionals this year. I’m just hoping to fine tune everything, make everything better,” Krueger said.
Lindenberg competed all-around at conference and vault, beam and floor at regionals. As a freshman, she missed an at-large sectional vault berth by .125. Grusecki and Phelan were part of last year’s regional bars lineup.
The team’s season-opening 118.10 points for seventh place at the Hinsdale South Invitational on Nov. 23 was the result of Domzalski having her gymnasts perform conservative routines amid collective illness and fatigue. They talked afterwards that higher scores are coming soon.
“I’ve been talking it very slow and the girls are actually going along with it,” Domzalski said. “They’re where I want them right now. I just need to gradually increase [difficulty].”
At Hinsdale South, Christiansen was fourth on vault (9.0), seventh on floor (8.75) and eighth on uneven bars (7.9) for top-10 medals. Krueger and Janusz sat out because of illness or injury. Sophomore Bella Cruz was promoted to compete on beam.