As the bright lights shine down on the floor, junior Karlie Lajewski can feel her nerves settling down. As the team gets set to begin, she looks up at her younger sister, something nobody else on the team can do.
“It was so much fun, it made us so much closer,” said Lajewski. “It was a little hard to get use to, but before every competition we would hug and it made me so happy to see her competing there with me.”
When the music started junior Alexandra Shafer and freshman Payton Cariato began the routine off with bang. Both opening passes were stuck, and the Huntley fans went crazy. As tumbling began the unimaginable happened, one of the girls fell on her full. When she got up she brushed it off, having the whole routine ahead of her to make it up.
“I thought the girls did an amazing job today,” said head coach Kimberlee Hoffmann.
One problem that the girls ran into while preparing for state was an injury. Freshman Abbie Noie got injured, so they had to adjust their routine.
“I thought we did really well today,” said sophomore Hunter Pyra. ““For the amount of people that got sick this week, and injuries, we pulled it together.”
As the routine went on, the stunts went up very well. Full ups hit, but as they began their full arounds, one stunt had fallen. This fall along with the tumbling mishap would make it very difficult for the team to make it to the second day of state, due to the high caliber of competition.
“I personally feel like it wasn’t our best, but we did really well for it being only our second time going to state,” said junior Jenna Slonka.
Even with the two falls, the girls did not let them affect the rest of their performance. They threw their baskets without any difficulty and hit their pyramid without any problems. When it came time for their dance, the girls hit all the motions very tight and with a lot of energy.
“Honestly to me, being on the floor at state was one of the best feelings ever. Being able to walk onto that floor under the lights and know that all of our hard work has paid off,” said Pyra. “Being able to share that moment with everyone on the floor and hearing everyone scream for us, it made me happier than ever. Experiencing that made me want to leave that floor with no regrets. Everyone should be able to feel like that in their sport no matter what.”
As the music finished, the girls hugged knowing they did the best that they could with the week that they had. Even though the girls did not make it to day two of state, they did finish the season with some amazing accomplishments.
The team got fifth place at ICCA state, they became three time conference champions, got second place at sectionals and finished 14th in the state.
“Competing on the mat at state was indescribable,” said Slonka. “It was like the results from our hard work had finally paid off. It was very pressuring, but such an amazing feeling and it felt like no other mat I have ever competed on.”