Facing a quarter-point deficit entering their final day of state competition, the Lyons Township girls’ gymnastics team rode improved balance-beam performances by Katie Carling and Michelle Cozza to take their first-ever Illinois state championship on Saturday, the Daily Herald reports.
The win was capped for the Lions, the paper said, by sophomore Kelsy Kurfirst’s 9.725 floor routine, which won her a first-place title along with second place in vault, second in all-around and a T-3 on balance beam.
"We were excited coming into today, not really knowing what to expect," Kurfirst told the Herald. "We knew we had the potential to do something big and we did it."
According to the Chicago Tribune, no Illinois girls’ gymnastics team has come from behind on Saturday to win state in over two decades—since 1991.
But LT improved four of eight individual routines over their Friday efforts, the Tribune reported, while the overnight-leading Prairie Ridge Wolves couldn’t push any further forward with their five chances, giving the Lions a 149.625-149.300 win.
“We knew we had to capitalize on every opportunity, but balance that with the nerves of finals,” Lions coach Kari Karubas told the Suburban Life. “I just woke up this morning and I knew we could do it or at least we had to go down swinging.”
“I just went out there with nothing to lose,” The Doings La Grange quoted junior Carling, whose beam performance brought LT even with the Wolves, saying. “Our motto all season has simply been to go out there and try to get better every time and it worked out.”
The second-place Wolves gave LT plenty of praise.
“[LTHS] snuck up on us, but we had a great overall past two days,” Prairie Ridge gymnast Rachael Underwood told McHenry County Sports.
“Lyons earned it tonight, but our team did its best,” fellow Wolf Riley Mahoney agreed to the Herald.
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