Lincoln-Way co-op’s Mallory Winter embraces leadership role

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Lincoln-Way co-op sophomore Mallory Winter said she looked up to teammate Kaila Pohrte last year.

Pohrte, a junior during the 2012-13 campaign, was the first L-W gymnast to win a SouthWest Suburban individual title.

Winter expected to follow Pohrte’s lead again this year but things changed when Pohrte suffered a season-ending ACL injury during the club season.

Now athletes such as Winter and junior Shelby Wiktor have been thrust into leadership roles.

“We were on varsity last year and we’re trying to step up and show some of the girls what to do at the meets. We’re trying to cheer for everybody and show them how things work.

“Some of the other girls are starting to look up to me since I’m trying to lead them. I like it. They come up to me and ask how to fix something in their routine. It feels good to be a leader for once.’’

It’s a whole new experience for the team, which draws its athletes from Lincoln-Way North, Central, West and East high schools. Aside from the shifting of the talent and leadership level, the team is going through a coaching change with the departure of longtime coach Skip Adamson and the hiring of Kim Lago as head coach and former Andrew coach Allison Hack as an assistant.

“It’s exciting because we’re working on new techniques with the new coaches,” she said. “We’re really looking forward to the end of the season when we can see how far we can go. We’re hoping to make it to state this year.”

Winter finished 12th with a score of 32.8 in the all-around at the 35th Conant Invitational, which was the best finish by a Lincoln-Way gymnast. Newcomer Kara Auchstettir was right behind her at 13th with a 32.300.

Winter said her favorite event is the floor exercise.

“Everybody has a different routine,” she said. “I love to dance. I danced when I was a little girl. It’s coming back. I love it. You can really be creative.’’

She spent some of her offseason in 2013 competing on the state and regional level with the Flip Star club out of New Lenox. Even though she has been involved with gymnastics most of her life, she doubts she will continue it in college.

This summer, Winter had a chance to broaden her horizons and get away from the sport for a couple of weeks when she visited Australia with a People to People Student Ambassador group.

“It was a great experience,” she said. “For two days we did a service project and we used recyclable materials to build pots for plants, crates, chairs and ladders. One day we went to the Great Barrier Reef and we got to go snorkeling and scuba diving. That was awesome. Not a lot of people get to do that.’’

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