Although it’s awfully early, the Oak Park and River Forest High School girls gymnastics team has already secured a signature win this season. The Huskies defeated perennial power Lyons Township 136.05-132.30 on Dec. 9. That notable win consolidated another conference victory (132.95-120.20 against York), which also occurred last week.

LTHS won state titles in 2013 and 2014, placed second in 2010 and has earned several other top 7 finishes over the last eight years.

“(LTHS) has been going downstate forever so it was really good to see our girls come out the way they did against them,” OPRF coach Kris Wright said. “We really hit the routines today in each category. It’s early in the season, but we’re really putting everything together.”

OPRF edged the visiting Lions, however, with strong performances from junior Alyona Joschaniewicz and senior Riley Patnode.

Joschaniewicz won the all-around with a personal best 35.80 and also placed first in the vault (9.25), uneven bars (8.90) and balance beam (9.25).

“I was happy with my routines,” Joschaniewicz said. “The floor routine could have been a little bit better, but I felt good.”

Patnode scored a team-high 8.55 on the floor and took third in the all-around standings with a score of 34.20.

Although the Huskies had no state qualifiers last season, experienced gymnasts like Joschaniewicz, Patnode and junior Natalie Weeks plus promising freshmen like Grace Luptak and Cecilia Doyle has the team as optimistic as ever. Luptak (34.20) and Doyle finished (33.10) finished third and fourth, respectively, in the dual meet against the Lions. Weeks was seventh at 32.10. 

“I’m really proud of our team,” Joschaniewicz said. “I think we have an excellent group of girls here. We went into the (LTHS) meet knowing it was going to be tough. We were really happy that it was a good outcome.
“If we keep working hard this season, we’ll have even more success and get some girls down to sectionals and maybe even state. I’m expecting some great things from this team.”
LTHS sophomore Sarah Halm scored a 34.90 to notch second in the all-around. She also recorded team bests in the vault (9.20), bars (8.70) and floor (8.80). Fellow sophomore Julia Cozzi posted the Lions’ top score of 8.55 on the beam.

Led by senior standouts Kelsy Kurfist and Kelly Ryser last season, the Lions finished fifth in the state.

“It’s a lot different than last year,” Halm said. “I know it’s going to take a lot of work, but I really think we can get there.

“I was nervous for this (OPRF) meet for sure, but I took those nerves and tried to make it good energy. Our energy was up as a team.”

OPRF will compete in the Wheaton Warrenville South Invite on Saturday (Dec. 19) at 2 p.m.

The Huskies then kick of 2016 with their remaining conference meets in January against Glenbard West, Hinsdale Central and Downers Grove North.

“I really think we can have a high finish in conference,” Wright said. “We’re really excited about where this (win over LTHS) puts us in our conference now, which is right in the mix.

“We have more talent this year and more club kids that are coming into the high school. The goal is to keep moving through and get some girls down to the state series.”

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