Ava Hepokoski

Lyons Township High School’s girls gymnastics team dropped its West Suburban Conference Silver dual opener 128.85 to 125.60 to Oak Park and River Forest High School on Dec. 7, hampered in part by the loss of sophomore Ava Hepokoski, who sustained a bloody gash to the back of her head during her vault.

After an immediate care trip to Hinsdale, where she received 10 staples, Hepokoski returned in time for the end of the meet to cheer the Lions’ final routines on floor exercise.

“I wanted to see how the team was doing and people were probably concerned,” Hepokoski said. “I’m very proud of them for stepping up after I was taken out.”

Junior Emily Tucker won the uneven parallel bars (8.0) and all-around (32.90) and senior Annmarie Holmes won floor (9.1) following Hepokoski’s injury during the Lions’ first event. 

“Honestly, at first I was very sad because I wasn’t able to compete with a teammate I’ve been practicing with basically every day, every week, every month,” Tucker said.

LTHS opened with 127.70 at the Hinsdale South Invitational on Nov. 23. Hepokoski scored a team-best eighth place 8.75 on vault.

Against OPRF, Hepokoski said she got the necessary height to successfully flip and land her tuck Yurchenko vault, but not enough distance. Her head struck the end of the vaulting table upon landing.

Hepokoski said there were no concussion signs, and her staples should be removed sometime this week.

“I’ve broken my tibia and my wrist before, but I’ve never really had anything that involved a lot of blood,” Hepokoski said. “I do feel bad for what happened but I’m just proud that they went out there and did well despite of what happened.”

Sophomore Emmy Bertucci was second on uneven bars (7.8) and tied for second on floor (8.5). Tucker tied for third on vault (8.5) and beam (8.0) and Holmes was third in all-around (32.50). Junior Leyla Ochoa made her season debut.

“I was really proud of [floor]. It’s hard going last, especially at the end of a dual meet because it’s a long day,” Holmes said. “Once I started performing, all of my teammates were cheering for me. I wasn’t nervous anymore and I felt it went well.”