Two girls’ gymnasts qualify for State
Video by Isaac Goffin
Two Cougar gymnasts qualified individually for State at Thursday’s girls’ gymnastics Sectionals: Danielle Smith, ‘21, on the floor exercise and vault, and Mikaela Kaminski, ‘22, on the beam. Smith qualified automatically by placing fourth with a score of 9.1 and as an at-large advancer on the vault with a score of 9.35, while Kaminski qualified as an at-large advancer with a score of 9.15.
About her floor exercise, Smith said, “The practicing I’ve been doing all year, it’s been really helpful. I added a new pass recently, the double back, and I’ve been hitting it so that’s pretty good.”
About the beam, Kaminski said, “I think I gotten a lot of new skills for this season, and I worked really hard on them to stick them and do my best.”
On the event before the beams, the bars, Kaminski had a scare with her knee. “I thought she was done for the night,” Head coach Anthony Avella said. “And then she got up and gave us an awesome performance on balance beam and made it to State.”
Avella added that if Smith hadn’t fallen on the beams, it would’ve made her close for qualifying for State as an all-arounder. “Other than that, she had a great vault. She had a really excellent floor routine. I was really proud of her. That’s probably her best floor routine she’s done all year,” Avella said.
Both gymnasts have said they are nervous for State because it’s their first time qualifying. Kaminski said, “I’m going to try to keep a clear mind and keep focusing on practice and just hope for the best.”
“We’re going to prepare for State the way we prepare for any other meet,” Avella said. “We’re going show up, we’re going to work on our routines, we’re going to try to hit our routines in practice and clean up a few up things. Really, not much changes as far as work ethic and what our focus is and we’re trying to do the most cleanest, the most consistent routine we can do the best we can.”
The team placed sixth at the Sectional with a score of 137.4. Avella said, “The best thing about this group, besides their talent, is that they’re young. We have a freshman, I think we have three sophomores, I think we have a junior, so we’re graduating nobody. And a lot can happen in the offseason, so I’m looking forward to what this group can accomplish.”
State is on Feb. 15-16 at Palatine High School.