Niles North girls gymnastics sectional: Samantha Kopley motivates Glenbrook South vaulters

SHARE Niles North girls gymnastics sectional: Samantha Kopley motivates Glenbrook South vaulters

SKOKIE — Glenbrook South freshman Hannah Hartley earned one of her four berths in the girls gymnastics state meet by taking second place in the vault at the Niles North Sectional. Glenbrook South scored a meet-best 36.9000 in the event.

Still, coach Steve Gale said senior Samantha Kopley set the tone. Kopley’s score didn’t count for the team, but once she completed her half-on routine, she turned into the team’s biggest cheerleader in its final event.

“I get so into it,” Kopley said of rooting on her teammates. “I’m usually first, so I am right there yelling and screaming.”

Competing in the event was redemptive for Kopley, who tore the ACL in her left knee in January of her junior season. She wore a protective brace on her knee at Niles North.

“I was so happy when I stuck it,” she said of her vault routine.

In addition to qualifying in the vault with a score of 9.425, Hartley qualified in the all-around (36.625), parallel bars (8.775) and balance beam (9.425). 

The top five gymnasts in each event at the sectional automatically advanced to this weekend’s state meet at Palatine. The IHSA also awarded 12 at-large berths in each event to the gymnasts with the best scores that didn’t earn automatic berths.

Freshman Julia Stadler (9.200), senior Amanda Browder (9.175) and junior Kaci Castino (9.100) all finished 12th or better in the vault at the sectional.

“We went 5-for-5,” Gale said. “Without question, it was our best event, and it’s been good all season long. I was very pleased.”

The Titans scored 136.750 points as a team to place fourth in the six-team field. New Trier won the sectional title with 142.875.

Glenbrook North

An automatic all-around qualifier a year ago, Glenbrook North junior Carli Betman will be back at the state meet this season.

Betman took third on the vault (9.400) at Niles North to earn her repeat trip. She also was sixth on the floor exercise (9.300) and earned an at-larger state berth.  

Betman finished seventh on the balance beam (9.125) and scored a 35.050 on the all-around, done in by a 7.225 on the parallel bars.


The Ramblers’ lone gymnast, sophomore Claire Sullivan, will be a busy girl at Palatine. She earned automatic bids to the state meet in two events, finishing third on the beam (9.575) and fifth on the floor (9.325).

Sullivan also grabbed an at-large spot in the all-around after posting a 36.150.

Niles West

Junior Catherine Steegmueller didn’t qualify for the state meet, but she finished inside the top 20 in all four of her events at the sectional, including placing 14th out of 30 in the all-around with a 35.070. Her best finish was on beam, where she took 11th (9.025).

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