Lincoln-Way Co-op girls gymnastics coach Skip Adamson is not sure who his top four performers will be at the end of the season.
But four of the athletes who impressed him the most in the preseason come from all four schools in his co-op area.
“We’re covering the district with these four,” Adamson said. “This is the first time this has happened this way. I can’t remember having all four being represented. There was always one missing. We’ve had West, East and Central. We’ve never had a top kid from North.
“I don’t know if they will still be the top four at the end of the season because there are some others who could shine for us. But these four are our primary gymnasts out of the gate.”
Senior Sam Duggan is from Lincoln-Way East, sophomore Shelby Wiktor is from North, sophomore Kaila Pohrte is from West and freshman Mallory Winter is from Central and all four hope to keep up Lincoln-Way’s recent success of winning three straight SouthWest Suburban Conference titles.
Duggan qualified for sectional in the balance beam last season. She said she enjoys being teammates with athletes from rival schools.
“We get to work with other people we normally wouldn’t get to work with and it brings us together,” Duggan said. “When we’re at football games, there is a rivalry but when we get together, we’re a team. We have formed a lot of friendships and bonds with other schools.”
Pohrte brings back the most postseason success as she took second in regional action in the balance beam, qualifying for sectionals, and tied for fifth in the floor exercise and fifth in all-around.
“This year she dedicated herself to gymnastics and picked up where she left off and is ready for her first meet,” Adamson said.
Pohrte said she also enjoys the camaraderie of being teammates with athletes from the other three schools.
“I don’t think any other sport can bring the schools together like this one does,” Pohrte said.
Witkor didn’t reach the sectional level last season. But, she was a state champion in the vault in club gymnastics in 2010.
She said she values interacting with players from the other schools.
“This is a way to expand our friendships,” Witkor said. “I know people from West, East and Central and it builds even more friendships.”
Mallory is new to the program but knows many of her teammates through the club circuit.
“It’s fun meeting new people,” she said. “They are all really good here and there are some girls who are just getting into gymnastics who are going to be good, too. The girls here have some very good skills that are unique and creative.”
The co-op team graduated three-sport star Kaitlyn Neiheisel, who placed fifth in the state in the floor exercise as a junior and was seventh in 2011-12.
Sandburg, which narrowly beat Lincoln-Way in a dual meet last year, and improving Andrew and Homewood-Flossmoor teams could make things interesting in the SWSC. Adamson is going into this season cautious.
“There are going to be question marks because you don’t know what they can do and we’re finding out what they can do,” Adamson said. “Sometimes an athlete can come in and you’re eyes pop and you say ‘Wow!’ but we don’t really have that yet.”
Area gymnasts to watch: (In alphabetical order) Sam Duggan (Sr., Lincoln-Way Co-op), Kacie Kenney (Jr., Lockport), Athanasia Pappas (Jr., Lockport), Kaila Pohrte (Soph., Lincoln-Way Co-op), Mallory Winter (Fr., Lincoln-Way Co-op), Shelby Woktor (Soph., Lincoln-Way Co-op).
Big regular-season meets to watch: Andrew at Lincoln-Way, Dec. 5; Lincoln-Way at Sandburg Dec. 12 (last year Sandburg won, 133-132.85); Homewood-Flossmoor Invitational Dec. 15; Lincoln-Way Invitational, Jan. 5; SouthWest Suburban Conference Meet at Homewood-Flossmoor, Jan. 26.
State meet info: The Illinois High School Association State Meet will be held Feb. 15-16 at Palatine High School.
Last year’s state champion: Mundelein Carmel.
Last area state top-8 finisher: Lincoln-Way took seventh in 2007, two years after taking fifth place.
Last season’s SouthWest Suburban Conference Champion: The Lincoln-Way Co-op team won its third league title in a row.
No co-op: Plainfield will not field a co-op team this year according to Dist. 202 officials. The Plainfield schools had a team the past three years. Athletes from those school will be eligible to enter the IHSA tournament as individuals.