OPRF sophomore Grace Luptak was seventh on uneven bars (8.375) at the West Suburban Conference meet. (Photo by Deb Patnode)

Sophomore Grace Luptak soon will become a leader for the Oak Park and River Forest girls gymnastics team.

She’s had great role models in senior four-year members Natalie Weeks and Alyona Jochaniewicz, a 2016 state qualifier in all-around.

“With Natalie, I think I’ve learned high school gymnastics is supposed to be fun so to not let it get in your head,” Luptak said. “Alyona really inspires me. She’ll go through five routines in practice and stick them all. She’s inspires me to work hard.”

After joining them last season as individual sectional qualifiers, Luptak once again rose to the occasion at the DeKalb Regional Monday.

Luptak was expected to add vault and compete for the first time this season as an all-arounder after inflaming ligaments in her right ankle during the pre-season. Luptak competed on the other three events at the West Suburban Conference Silver Division Meet Saturday at Glenbard West.

“I land most of (my vaults) in practice,” Luptak said Saturday. “(Last season) really inspired me to try and go all the way (to state) this year – hopefully.”

After Thursday, the Huskies will learn their team and all individual hopes for the six-team Glenbard North Sectional Feb. 8.

Seeded ninth in the sectional, the Huskies finished fourth at the Silver Meet (134.80 points) and fourth in the final overall standings after a 3-2 dual record.

Jochaniewicz earned three top-five medals by taking fourth on floor exercise (9.25) and balance beam (8.825) and fifth in all-around (34.75).  Luptak, Weeks and sophomore Sophia Preys had top-10 finishes.

“We’d like to tweak some things here and there but I think in general it’s good,” OPRF coach Kris Wright said. “This is the brutal time of the year where you’re trying to make sure you’re doing a good job of keeping them healthy and strong. Now we’re working on the detail work, really presenting solid routines.”

Jochaniewicz missed last year’s Silver Meet recovering from a concussion and sprained finger. She returned for the postseason to earn her first trip to state.

“All-around definitely (again) and floor finals is the goal, at least floor,” Jochaniewicz said. “Just to finish it off for senior year. I’m pumped. I’m excited. I’m ready to go. I’m just hoping that as a team we can all make it to state, sectionals.”

Luptak was seventh on uneven bars (8.375). Preys was ninth in all-around (33.525) and tied for ninth on beam (8.575) and Weeks was ninth on uneven bars (8.3) and 10th in all-around (33.225).

Jochaniewicz and Weeks have been perennial sectional qualifiers. Luptak joined them at sectionals in all-around and floor.

“I have been competing (club gymnastics) so it’s a lot different. (High school is) a lot more fun and team oriented, which I really liked,” Luptak said. “I’ve learned it doesn’t matter if you have a bad day. You can always push through.”

After a rough first two events, taking eighth on vault (8.875) and 20th on uneven bars, Jochaniewicz bounced back to more than double her previous Silver Meet medals for fourth in all-around (2015) and beam (2014).

“I’m still kind of nervous at every meet, but it’s what you expect,” Jochaniewicz said. “Just one more time (at state), that’s what I’m hoping for, and finish it strong.”

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