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LT gymnasts will settle for nothing less than state title

Published: Monday, Feb. 17, 2014 4:30 p.m. CST • Updated: Friday, Feb. 28, 2014 4:11 p.m. CST
(Erica Benson -
Lyons Township's Katie Carling competes in the floor exercise during the Feb. 12 Hinsdale Central sectional meet. After winning the sectional title, Carling and the Lions are looking to repeat as state champions this weekend.

HINSDALE – One of the goals Lyons Township’s girls gymnastics team always has is to cleanly execute all 20 routines at a meet.

Despite winning the Hinsdale Central sectional on Feb. 12 with a score (149.875) higher than the one they used to win state last year (149.625), the Lions did not hit all 20 routines and were therefore disappointed.

“One of our goals was to hit 20-for-20, which we didn’t achieve, but that gives us something else to strive for at the [state] meet,” senior Katie Carling said.

LT’s score was well behind the season-high of 152.1, which the Lions have hit twice this season, including in the regional just five days earlier. Still, it was the highest score of any team in the four sectionals that took place last week and has LT in good standing as it looks to defend the state title it won last year.

A self-described sloppy sectional performance by the Lions was still good enough to be the best score in the state, but coach Kari Karubas denied that the room for error changes anything. She just wants the gymnasts to perform their best regardless.

“We had nerves from a couple girls that are unacceptable,” Karubas said. “We’ve got to figure that out if we care to make sense of what we’ve been doing here since the beginning of the season. I speak of this only because I see such greatness in the gym. What I’m expecting is no different than what I see on a daily basis, so for it not to happen [at sectionals] is not OK.”

Individually, Kelsy Kurfirst won the all-around with a 38.3 total. It was the second-best sectional all-around score in the state, just one tenth behind a 38.4 from Prairie Ridge co-op’s Rachael Underwood. Prairie Ridge figures to be LT’s toughest competition at state in the team standings after returning much of the team that was second to LT a year ago.

Kurfirst also won floor exercise (9.675), uneven parallel bars (9.475) and vault (9.625) and was third on balance beam (9.525). For Kurfirst, the success is familiar, but being the defending team champions has altered the feel around the team.

“We always have to deal with that pressure and those nerves,” Kurfirst said. “We know the stakes are high right now and it’s kind of crunch time. Of course we’re going to be more nervous than usual, but we just got to trust ourselves and do what we do.”

Carling also had a solid day by taking second in the all-around at the sectional with a 37.7 total. Carling and Kurfirst will lead the charge at state.

“[Carling] always seems to come through, quite the competitor,” Karubas said. “She’s one of the few, she and Katie, who in competition jump higher, leap harder, flip faster. It brings out the best in them.”

Michelle Cozza, Jackie Fuller, Olivia McGann and Mackenzie Stotz also qualified for state as individuals.

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