Girls gymnastics state tournament preview notebook: New Trier nabs sectional crown
New Trier's Kerry Scafidi on the vault at the sectional gymnastics championship at Stevenson High School. | Michael Schmidt~Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 15, 2013 12:54PM
LINCOLNSHIRE — The balance beam can break a team, and it came close to doing so for New Trier during the Stevenson Sectional.
Each of the five Trevians competing in the sectional on Feb. 7 fell on beam, but each of them left it behind and responded incredibly on floor exercise and vault en route to a final score of 144.4 — and New Trier’s first sectional title since 1995.
Lake Forest edged three-time defending state champion Carmel 142.45 to 1425.425 to also advance as the final at-large team.
“It was very uncharacteristic for us to have five falls like that, but we got right back up on floor and got together, and said, ‘This is it,’ ” New Trier coach Jenny Pistorious said. “They got right back up on floor and put it together. They knew they had to rock the last two events and they did. They were amazing.”
Nothing came easy for a Trevians team that had to warm up and stretch while on the bus ride to Lincolnshire, due to poor weather and traffic delays caused by a snowstorm.
“We were literally doing splits across the seats to get ready,” New Trier junior Elana Benishay said. “We were laughing about it, though. It loosened us up. When you’re warming up like that on a bus, you can’t take anything too seriously.”
Senior Kerry Scafidi led New Trier, placing third in all-around with 37.425. Benishay (36.6) was seventh, while junior Stephanie Steen (34.825) and sophomore Claire Egerter (34.45) contributed as well.
“The fact that it was a sectional meet gave our team much more motivation because of state,” Scafidi said. “We struggled on beam, but we showed we could bounce back and still do well.”
New Trier received a huge boost with sophomore Samantha Stoddart returning from injury, as she contributed on bars, beam and floor. There were legitimate fears in the preseason that Stoddart would miss the entire 2012-13 campaign.
“She’s been out since the beginning of the season with a stress fracture, so for her to come back was huge,” Pistorious said. “I think she made a big contribution.”
Ultimately, New Trier scored plenty to win the sectional.
“There was a lot of suspense, but it also made you try to get every single point,” Scafidi said. “We just have put everything together at the right time, and I can’t believe we beat Lake Forest because from everything I saw them doing, they were amazing.”
Off to state
Glenbrook North sophomore Carli Betman tied for third place on vault with a score of 9.55 at the Stevenson Sectional on Feb. 7 to reach the state meet for the first time.
At the beginning of the season, Betman competed on vault with one tuck tsuk and one pike tsuk in her arsenal. Midway through the season, she incorporated two pike tsuks each time out.
No state berths
Glenbrook South junior gymnast Amanda Browder scored 33.15 in all-around in the Stevenson Sectional on Feb. 7, and senior Kaci Castiano scored 33.825, but neither advanced to state.
“Both of my girls went out and didn’t what they were asked to do,” Glenbrook South coach Steve Gale said. “Their scores were comparable to what they had done (previously).”
Sophomore Catherine Steegmueller scored 34.1 in all-around — highlighted by a score of 8.9 on bars — to lead Niles West at the Stevenson Sectional on Feb. 7.
Junior Valerie Fung competed on floor (8.5) and vault (8.8), while senior Nicholle Fourkas added a couple of skills to her floor routine to post a score of 8.5.
No team members advanced to the state meet.
“Valerie and Catherine are setting goals for themselves to achieve full difficulty on each event and strive for their goal of being in the state series next year,” Niles West coach Susan Arcus said.