Everything comes together for Carmel’s Feely
Carmel's Lauren Feely on the beam at the girls state gymnastics championship finals at Palatine High School. | Michael Schmidt~Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 22, 2013 9:47AM
PALATINE — For the first time since 2009, Carmel’s girls gymnastics team will not be etched on the state championship trophy.
But one Corsair did leave her own legacy.
Senior Lauren Feely completed one of the greatest careers in state history with two first-place finishes in Saturday’s final round. Feely won both the vault (9.825) and uneven parallel bars (9.375). She was runner-up in the balance beam (9.375), and her second-place floor routine (9.675) capped her three-year state medal count at 12.
Friday, she won the all-around competition (38.700) after nailing a 9.90 vault in the final rotation. Her performance took a bit of the sting out of Carmel’s first absence in the team competition in 10 years.
“We wanted to come out and show that Carmel is not over, we are not going to give up,” Feely said. “It’s so unbelievable. I worked so hard these past three years. I’m so happy it all came together.”
Senior Sarah Cohen-Smith was the Corsairs’ other all-state winner, finishing fifth in the vault (9.675). She was state champion in the vault in 2012.
Stevenson’s Alyssa Weisberg was last to go on the balance beam Saturday night. The sophomore’s routine turned out to be the best, as she became the school’s first individual champion since Ali Castriano won the beam in 2010.
Weisberg denied Feely her third individual medal when she finished her routine with a score of 9.525. Feely was runner-up (9.475).
“I’ve been working so hard all year. I made it a goal,” Weisberg said of making the state finals on the beam. “It was very emotional (to win). I always had the team to support me.”
Her score was just better than Friday’s qualifying score of 9.50. Senior teammate Riley Trebilco, who tied for fourth on the beam at the 2011 state meet, qualified for Saturday’s final round. She finished in a tie for sixth.
Every year between 1983-85, Lake Forest sent a team to the state meet. A generation later, the Scouts had a team of gymnasts worth comparing to that group.
One constant over that span of time: coach Robin Straus.
For the third straight year, Lake Forest finished in the top six as a team at the state meet. It finished in sixth place Saturday after placing fifth in 2012 and runner-up in 2011. Straus, who is retiring after 34 seasons, stuck around two years after retiring as a teacher to coach this class of gymnasts.
“They are each a piece of the puzzle. It’s a special group,” Straus said. “It’s impossible to say who your best gymnast is because on any given day, it’s any of the three.”
Straus was referring to seniors Kylie Carlson, Katherine McKeon and Brittany Moccia. Carlson shined at the state meet, finishing tied for eighth at Friday’s all-around (37.275). Saturday, she won an all-state medal with a third-place performance in the floor exercise. McKeon gained all-state honors with fifth-place finish in the uneven parallel bars (9.350).
Both Carlson and McKeon were gracious accepting their final state medals as Scouts Saturday. They were grateful to have Straus leading the team, as she did three decades ago.
“We weren’t sure coming out of sectionals if we’d even qualify,” McKeon said. “We are so thankful. For this to be Coach Straus’ last year, it’s amazing.”
Carlson added: “This is so exciting. Especially for (Straus’) last season for us to go out as a team. Just incredible.”
Lake Forest also qualified as a team in 2010. Four years, four state meets. Straus leaves on top.
Alli Tran is leaving Vernon Hills, but she’s leaving quite a legacy.
Tran finished with two top-10 performances at the state meet this season. Friday, she was tied for eighth in the all-around (37.275). Saturday, she finished tied for sixth in the vault (9.60).
Capping her career, Tran, a senior, was named Senior Gymnast of the Year by the Illinois High School Girls Gymnastics Coaches Association.
“That was the icing on the cake. There are so many (gymnasts) nominated and they all deserve it,” Tran said. “I feel honored they chose me.”
Barrington’s Abby Hasanov was the only freshman to with a top-10 finish in the all-around competition. Hasanov was seventh (37.575).
Mundelein could be a team to watch in 2014. Two sophomores, McKenzie Kehr (vault) and Nicole Ornoff (beam), qualified for Friday’s preliminary rounds. Neither made it to Saturday’s finals.