By Matt Le Cren
For the Bugle
For the Bugle
Kayla Carlson’s gymnastics career is coming to an end, while Andrea Davenport’s is just getting ramped up.
The two Downers Grove South stars made their final meet together a memorable one as both advanced to the individual event finals at the state meet at Palatine on Saturday.
Carlson, a senior, scored 9.375 on floor exercise during Friday’s preliminary round to finish in a three-way tie for the 10thand final spot in the finals.
Davenport, a sophomore who was making her first state appearance as an individual qualifier, earned her finals berth by rating 9.3 on balance beam, good for sixth place.
Both performances were noteworthy, though for different reasons. Carlson is a state meet veteran but missed all but the last month of her final season with a fractured vertebrae in her back.
“I really wanted to finish off the last season, even though the doctors were a little bit against it,” Carlson said. “I just wanted to finish it on my own terms and see what I could do.
“So just being here, knowing that there was a chance that I wasn’t going to come back, was good enough on its own to realize that I was off for however many months and I at least made it here. That’s exciting.”
Carlson also competed to honor her younger sister, Abby, who suffered a torn ACL at the West Suburban Gold meet, an injury that doomed the Mustangs’ hopes of advancing to state as a team for the second straight year.
Abby Carlson, a sophomore, underwent surgery last Monday and watched the competition from a wheelchair in the balcony.
Kayla Carlson made her sister and teammates proud. She finished 27th in the all-around (35.3), 18th on vault (9.45) and 19thon uneven bars (9.05).
Carlson’s only missed routine came on balance beam, where she fell twice, but she bounced back by sticking her floor routine to earn Saturday’s final performance.
“I had great vault and great bars so I wasn’t going to let one bad beam routine define the day that I was having,” Carlson said. “I was having a good day, so I just wanted to end it on a positive note and I did that.”
So did Davenport, who had to follow Carlson on beam.
“I’m very happy because I was scared I would fall,” Davenport said. “(Carlson’s falls made me nervous) but I don’t really watch beforehand because otherwise it will really freak me out.
“I just told myself to have fun, not think about it because it doesn’t matter at this point. (I did) close to my best.”
Carlson scored 9.35 on floor Saturday to finish in a tie for 10th, while Davenport grabbed ninth place on beam with an 8.825.
Downers South coach Kristyn Campos was proud of all of her gymnasts, but she was particularly thrilled for Davenport, who finished 17th on floor (9.25) in her only other performance.
“She’s improved tremendously from freshman year to this year,” Campos said. “Her gymnastics and her confidence has made some very impressive strides and I think that’s why she is here.
“It shows the progress and the level of our gymnastics is increasing and she’s someone that needs to be watched out for. She’s a great gymnast with great talent and we were able to see it today.”
Junior Lindsay Tom qualified for state individually for the first time and finished 32nd on bars (8.2) after a fall early in her routine.
“The bars are a little slippery today,” Tom said. “It wasn’t just me that slipped off, but I was happy with the rest of my routine.
“My double (dismount) was great. Hopefully I can come back next year and stay on the bars.”
The Mustangs hope to return several individuals and hopefully the entire team to state on a regular basis, something that was unthinkable several years ago.
“I’m just proud of them,” Campos said. “We’ve come so far in the last 10 years that I’ve been coaching that this is just an expectation now that we’re going to be at state.
“I’m nothing but proud of all of their work. They came out and did the best they could and that’s all I can ask for.”
DOWNERS GROVE NORTH
Downers Grove North’s Rebecca Donnelly and Brooke Stocki made their state meet debuts as both appeared on balance beam.
Stocki, a sophomore, scored 8.85 to finish 20th and would have qualified for finals if not for a fall.
Donnelly, a senior, stuck her routine and scored 8.725, good for 22nd.
“It was a little surreal,” Donnelly said. “I never actually thought I was going to get this far. Then I started doing better and I’m like I actually have a chance this year.”
Donnelly got that chance by being persistent.
“That’s the thing, she is such a hard worker,” Downers North coach Linda Reynolds said. “She’s a leader in the gym and she’s a wonderful kid.
“She earned this so I’m so glad that she got that opportunity to go, because a lot of times, especially on beam, one misstep and you’re done.
“I was happy she stuck her routine on beam. It’s a wonderful way for her to go out as a senior.”
Donnelly, who also plays the flute and piccolo in the school band, was pleased with how her career ended.
“It is one of my best high school memories,” Donnelly said. “I had awesome experiences because I’m also in band, but I’m so glad that I could get to do this with all of my friends. I don’t regret anything I’ve done this year.”