West Suburban gymnasts prep for state run
Hinsdale Central's Emma Christoph jumps on the balance beam in a meet with Glenbard West Jan. 17, 2013 in Hinsdale. | Rob Hart~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 25, 2013 11:34AM
GLEN ELLYN — Olivia McGann could not compete last season, so a West Suburban Silver gymnastics championship Saturday would be a sweet prize for the Lyons sophomore.
An early career of year-round club gymnastics forced McGann to the sidelines temporarily when doctors discovered her left knee had osteochondritis dissecans (OCD), a rare disease that causes cracks in the cartilage and the bone.
McGann underwent two surgeries in 2011 for her knee. She originally had a bone graft in March, but since her knee was not healing correctly, had more surgery in September.
More than a year later, McGann was able to return to the gym and has been a key specialist for Lyons, which has emerged as one of the favorites for the state meet Feb. 15-16.
“It feels really good. I couldn’t wait until I was able to do gymnastics,” said McGann, who treats her knee with a heat pad. “I’m pretty pleased with how I’m doing so far. I know it will get better from here.”
Her best scores this season are 9.2 on vault and 9.15 on uneven bars.
Lyons won all but one invitational this season, finishing second to Prairie Ridge Co-op at the Lake Forest Invitational Jan. 5, and is the heavy favorite to win the West Suburban Silver meet at 11 a.m. Saturday at Glenbard West. Lyons, the top seed at the Hinsdale Central sectional, hosts a regional at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 30.
Lyons is aiming high — a state championship — behind new gymnasts such as McGann, who have given the team a tremendous boost.
“My coach (Kari Karubas-Powell) has high expectations,” McGann said. “We definitely want to prove it to her.”
Lyons would like to start by claiming the conference title that Glenbard West captured last year when it beat Lyons 144.85-142.975.
McGann is one of at least three newcomers who have propelled Lyons this season. Juniors Michelle Cozza and Katie Carling also joined the Lions after their club gave the OK.
In the race for the all-around crown, defending conference champion, sophomore Kelsy Kurfirst of Lyons, owns a season-high 38.65. Cozza (37.775) and Carling (37.175) rank among the top, along with Hinsdale Central’s Erin Morgan (37.70) and Glenbard West’s Mackenzie O’Keefe (school-record 37.90).
Carling is questionable, however, after she suffered a hand injury last week.
Lyons has already defeated all of its primary conference challengers. Lyons beat Hinsdale Central 144.25-139.20 Dec. 17 and Glenbard West 148.75-144.80 on Dec. 12.
Hinsdale Central finished third in the Silver meet last season with a 139.075.
The conference is good enough to place three teams in the state meet this season. The Devils’ season-high is 141.575.
Hinsdale is the No. 2 seed in its own sectional and Glenbard West is the No. 1 seed in the sectional it’s hosting. York is finishing strong with a pair of recent wins over the Devils, 137.125-135.575, at the York Invitational Jan. 19 and 138.50-138.25 in their dual meet Jan. 9.
Oak Park-River Forest finished fifth in the conference meet last season, but has two freshmen making their debuts in Riley Patnode and Lauren Robinson.
Patnode has been a specialist this season behind all-arounder Nicole Pohlman, a senior. Patnode’s top score was 8.4 on the bars. The Huskies are coming off a ninth place finish at the 12-team Niles West Invitational Saturday.
“I think the year has gone by (fast). The beginning of the year seems like yesterday,” said Patnode, who expects to compete in bars and balance beam at conference. “I think it will be tough for us (at conference), but we could have a solid meet if we do well.”