It didn’t take long for Lincoln-Way Co-op sophomore Maggie Schultz to go from unknown to a contender for the SouthWest Suburban all-around title.
Defending champion Kaila Pohrte of Lincoln-Way won’t be able to defend her crown after suffering a season-ending knee injury before the season started. She became the first Lincoln-Way gymnast to win a conference title as she rang up a 35.2.
With her absence, the field is wide open. Returning conference stars include Sandburg’s Anna Girlich, who was third at the 2013 conference meet with a 34.450, and Lockport’s Kacie Kenney, who took fourth with a 33.050 and won the balance beam.
Lincoln-Way’s Shelby Wiktor and Mallory Winter also have been able to put up some big numbers as well.
Schultz seventh-place finish in all-around at the Lincoln-Way Invitational with a 35.350 would have been the winning score at last year’s conference meet. Her scored included a high of 9.3 on the vault. All of the SWSC contenders, except Kenney, were at that meet.
“I’m happy with what I did,” she said. “I’m actually surprised that I did so well.’’
So, who is Maggie Schultz and why haven’t area fans heard much about her before?
Schultz lived in Wilmington and participated in gymnastics since she was 3.
“My mom wanted to get me involved in a sport,’’ Schultz said. “She started naming off all the sports and I always wanted to learn how to flip. I chose gymnastics. I never played any other sports. It’s always been gymnastics.”
She hasn’t been a complete stranger to the Lincoln-Way area. Schultz has been a longtime member of the New Lenox-based Flip Star Gymnastics Academy.
She attended Wilmington, which doesn’t have a gymnastics team but spent the season on the Wildcats’ competitive cheerleading team. She transferred to Lincoln-Way West and has made an impact on the co-op team.
“I’ve been on a club since I was three and always wanted to compete at the high school level,” she said. “But my school didn’t have it. But now I’m going to a school with gymnastics and it’s been fun.’’
She said her favorite event is the balance beam.
“The beam is just four inches but you can do so much stuff on it,” she said. “There is stuff that you don’t even know you can do on it.’’
First year Lincoln-Way coach Kim Lago, a veteran coach of the area’s Gym-Kenetics club, is excited to watch Schultz’s progress on the high school level.
“She’s a great little gymnast and I think she is going to bring a lot to this program,” Lago said. “Hopefully we can keep her going and she improves even more the next couple of years.”