After coming extremely close last season, senior Annmarie Holmes is hoping to be among the Lyons Township High School girls gymnastics team’s first individual state qualifiers since 2018.
“It’s a pretty big goal,” Holmes said. “I’ve been working a lot with making sure that my routines will be ready and the difficulty in them will be able to qualify me for state.”
The Lions have higher aspirations behind four returning 2022 individual sectional qualifiers – Holmes, juniors Emily Tucker and Gabi Sanchez and sophomore Emmy Bertucci.
Senior Lexie Kulhanek and juniors Calli Avants and Elle Rockrohr return, and newcomers include sophomore Ava Hepokoski and freshman Carli Proctor. Kulhanek and Avants competed at regionals on floor and beam, respectively. In their most recent club seasons, Hepokoski competed at Level 8 and Proctor at Level 7.
Last season, the Lions reached 132.10 points and had their second-best score of 131.95 for third at the LTHS Regional. They finished fifth at the West Suburban Conference Silver Meet (128.05) and fifth overall.
The Lions opened Nov. 23 with a fifth-place 127.70 at the Hinsdale South Invitational that included several falls off beam. Holmes and Bertucci were among those already with more difficult routine skills than the end of last season.
“Hopefully things will be better [our Dec. 7 meet] and we’ll get a better accuracy of how the team score will be looking like,” said second-year LTHS coach Brittany Milovanovic. “I would love to try to get into sectionals as a team, but we’ll see how it goes. Our big goal for [Holmes] is to definitely get her down to state.”
At the 2022 Oswego Sectional, Holmes’ 9.05 on floor exercise that tied for sixth missed an automatic state berth by only 0.025 with a top-five sectional finish and the 9.225 at-large state cut. Holmes also was 14th in all-around (33.275) and tied for 23rd on beam (8.025).
Holmes’ best state chance may be balance beam, where she tied for fourth at the WSC Silver Meet (9.0). The non-qualifying 9.05 at sectionals for her first tuck Yurchenko vault also shows the potential to advance as an all-arounder.
“I’m really excited for this season. A lot of my routines are feeling pretty good,” Holmes said. “I feel like in the next couple of weeks it’ll be good at practice to just really solidify them and then maybe add a couple of things for the bigger meets at the end of the season.”
On uneven bars at sectionals, Bertucci tied for 22nd (8.05) and Tucker was 33rd (7.25). Sanchez tied for 26th on vault (8.425).
Usually an all-arounder, Bertucci was limited to uneven bars and beam at regionals by a foot injury. Tucker reached sectionals on her one event after spraining her ankle during warmups for the WSC Silver Meet.
“I think we can do a lot better than we did last year, especially now coming in knowing everything,” Bertucci said. “I think that if I really work towards getting my (bars) routine down perfectly I think I could have a chance [at state].”
At Hinsdale South, Holmes was fifth on floor (8.9) and 10th in all-around (31.95), Hepokoski was eighth on vault (8.75) and Bertucci was ninth on uneven bars (7.85) to earn medals.