After Downers Grove North junior Brooke Stocki qualified for last year's state meet, she mostly was disappointed.
Her only event was balance beam. On uneven parallel bars, her strongest, she fell on her dismount and missed the at-large cut.
“I kind of expected to do better than I did at sectionals,” Stocki said. “This year, it was definitely a different experience.”
At Monday’s Sandburg Sectional, Stocki won the uneven bars (9.35), shared first on beam (9.325) and was fifth in all-around (36.075) to automatically qualify for state in all three events with top-five finishes.
Downers Grove South junior Abby Carlson, who won floor exercise (9.55) and shared first in all-around (37.00), Hinsdale South senior Alex Caruso, Hinsdale Central freshman Kiki Harrast and Lyons Township junior Olivia Kalata also are headed for state Feb. 16-17 at Palatine.
Gymnasts also can advance at-large by being among the top 12 scores for those not top-five at sectionals. The fourth and final sectional is Thursday.
In her second high school season, Stocki took advantage of having uneven bars and beam as her first two events.
“Starting off the meet good on bars helped a lot with my beam score and being confident,” Stocki said. “I did like the order. Bars and beam are what I get most nervous for so to get those two out of the way was kind of a relief.”
Carlson returns to state after missing last year's postseason with a knee injury suffered on floor at the conference meet. The 2016 Mustangs also qualified as a team.
“I’m just so thankful I have the chance to be back there,” Carlson said. “Honestly my goal was just to have a fun season so just being here [at sectionals] in the first place was so exciting. I’m glad the results came with a good day.”
Carlson also was fourth on uneven bars (9.15) and tied for fifth on uneven bars (9.025). Her scores on vault (6th, 9.2) and beam (tied for 7th, 9.1) are at-large contenders.
“It’s just so impressive to come back from that injury, right back where you left off,” Downers Grove South coach Kristyn Campos said. “We’ve trained hard, trained smart, putting in skills at the right time. She’s peaking at the right time.”
A first-year high school gymnast, Caruso was fourth on floor (9.05), tied for fourth in vault (9.225) and tied for fifth on uneven bars (9.025). Her sixth-place 35.975 all-around beats the 2017 state cut.
“I wasn’t that confident going into the meet but my teammates helped me out a lot and it definitely got better throughout the meet,” said Caruso, who started on uneven bars. “I’m just looking forward to competing and having a good time [at state]. The experience of doing high school gymnastics is really fun.”
Harrast advanced by tying for fifth on uneven bars and floor with 9.025s.
“I feel like those are two of my favorite events so I’m really happy about that,” Harrast said. “I feel like it’s going to be a lot of fun. State was definitely a goal of mine but I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it.”
In the six-team sectional field, Downers Grove North (137.575) finished second to state qualifier Lincoln-Way co-op (143.275). Hinsdale Central (136.55) and Downers South (136.025) were third and fifth.
With no seniors, the Trojans were the only team that beat its regional score (137.45). Hinsdale Central used six seniors and Downers South one, Lindsay Tom. Hinsdale Central senior Lily Jones (tied for 8th on floor, 8.9) and junior Kylie Torsberg (9th on vault, 9.175) are at-large hopefuls.
Kalata is going to her third state meet but for the first time on uneven bars after a third-place, personal-best 9.275. Now she only hopes she can compete. Kalata injured her neck when her foot missed to begin her flip flop dismount. She scratched from floor, her final event.
“I flipped to the right and landed on my face and my body was behind me,” Kalata said. “It just feels sore. I don’t think it’ll be too bad. I’ve had an injury like this before and I’m hoping I can make a good comeback [for state]. I’ve also got next year, too.”