Palatine hosts state gymnastics

Senior Riley Strahl and freshman Jolee Waddington reprent Palatine High School at this year’s state gymnastics competition.

Allan Aguilar, Reporter

The Girls Gymnastics State Competition day 1 and day 2 took place on Friday 17, and Saturday 18 of February at Palatine High School. The State Competition had all the best from girls gymnastics from Illinois. 

There were 15 different schools competing. The girls competed in 4 different events: floor, vault, beam, and uneven bars. Only the top 10 competitors of each event are allowed to compete on the second day of the competitions. 

Palatine High School had two of their own gymnasts competing for state; Riley Strahl and Jolee Waddington whose coaches are Coach Lunsford, Coach Blaheta, Coach Hagel and Coach Terry.

“Overall the girls season was fantastic and exciting to be part of, especially how it ended,” Coach Lunsford said. “We had a great group of brand new athletes that had no experience who did a really good job and also had Riley Strahl and Jolee Waddington at State.” 

 Senior Riley Strahl has fifteen years of training. Strahl was competing in uneven bars. Freshman Jolee Waddington is competing all around and has been practicing gymnastics for 13 years. Both of these gymnasts have an incredible coach, Coach Lunsford. Coach Lunsford has been coaching girls and boys gymnastics for 6 years at Palatine High School.                   

 All the gymnasts started to warm up and get ready for the competition. Waddington and Strahl were confident and willing to give everything to be in the top 10. As the competitors were preparing to do their routines during warmups, Riley Strahl started to bleed due to the grips, however that was not going to stop Strahl from competing. Waddington competed first in vault and she scored 9.025. Later in the day Jolee Waddington’s turn on the floor was next. 

“I was feeling nervous before entering the floor, Waddington said. 

Although Waddington did a successful routine she did not score enough points to be in the top 10. Waddington scored 8.850

 After a short break, Strahl and Waddington were ready and waiting in line to compete in uneven bars. Strahl was first and scored 9.375 which helped Strahl to qualify to the second day of the State Competition. 

After Stralh’s turn it was finally Waddington’s turn to compete on uneven bars. Waddington after a successful landing she scored 9.100 and did not qualify to the second day of the State Competition.

After not qualifying to the second day of the State Competition on uneven bars Waddington was ready to do her last performance on beam. 

During the performance, Waddington fell off the beam which cost a deduction that prevented Waddington from qualifying to the second day of the State Competition. Waddington scored 8.750 on beam.

 “I had knee surgery last year on January 25th and I was out for 9 months,” Waddington said. “Recovery was really hard for me and this was my first time competing since my injury. It felt really good to be back again.” 

 Unfortunately Waddington did not qualify to the second day of the competition she still supported her teammate Strahl. After day 1 of the State Competition everyone went home and prepared for day 2 of the State Competition.  On the second day of the competition Strahl received all the support from  her teammates. 

“I was not looking at the scores,” Strahl said. “I was just trying to focus on what I was doing and making sure I was ready and confident to do my best performance.”

 As the competitors were doing their performance Strahl was making sure that she did everything right. When it was finally Strahl’s turn to compete on uneven bars. She had a lot of support that helped her motive and do her best performance to finish her career as a gymnast.

 “I do not think I will continue to do gymnastics after high school because physically I am done, however I might walk into the diving team at my college Northern Michigan University,” Strahl said. 

Overall Strahl’s career as a gymnast was successful at Palatine High School and she will be on the diving team of Northern Michigan University. 

 “I stepped up to the role of captain this year and it was a lot of fun,” Strahl said.

Strahl describes herself as a leader she proved how capable she is to be a leader. Strahl was outstanding during the season and she motivated not only herself but also her teammates. Those are some of the good qualities of Strahl.

Meanwhile in the competition it was finally Strahl’s turn to compete on uneven bars. Everything was going to be decided in this performance whether she won or not.

 During Strahl’s performance a single mistake would cost a deduction that could have left Strahl out of the competition, however with the right technique and with an outstanding performance Strahl scored 9.250. Riley Strahl made it to 5th place.

 “After the competition I was very emotional. I am happy I ended my career as a gymnast the way I did,”  Strahl said. 

Strahl ended her career winning 5th at the State Competition. 

Coach Lunsford supports and helps the gymnasts achieve their goals.

 “I always tell my athletes,” Coach Lunsford said. “Take it one day at a time, think of everything as a small accomplishment so you are able to stay on top of everything you need to do in order to be the best person and athlete that you can be.”