Everyone has pre game rituals, weather it is wearing the same socks or listening to the same song. There is something silly that every athlete does before they compete. As senior Taylor Lucas gets ready to go to warm ups for her last conference competition, she beings to feel excited to compete at one last time at a Fox Valley Conference competition.
“I always put on my right shoe on first and I always have to do my tumbling right away,” said Lucas.
As the girls line up at the back of the mat, their stomachs begin to turn. They are now realizing that they have one chance to become conference champions for the third year in a row. One two minute and 30 second routine to show the judges that they are the best in the Valley Conference (the large division).
“It is really nerve racking, because this will be the third title that we are fighting for,” said senior Miranda Simandl.
With junior Rachel Andros out with a hand injury, the routine has been changed to compensate for such a strong base being unable to compete. Head coach Kimberlee Hoffmann put freshman Payton Cariato in Andros’ tumbling place until her hand is healed. Other changes consist of taking out two of the five full arounds, a difficult skill where the fliers do a 360 spin when they are still being held up by the bases, and they had four basket tosses instead of five.
“Overall, they all stepped up and did what they needed to do,” said Hoffmann. “They had fun. Tonight, they finally had fun.”
Although the team had a rough start to the season, it seems like they are now getting the swing of things. With eight freshmen on the team, it can be difficult for some of them at the bigger competitions. Today, the team finally was able to have fun on the mat and be confident in their performance.
“I think this is the best that we have ever done. So, it is pretty amazing to have a performance like this, this late in the season,” said Lucas. “We have had a little bit of a rough time, so to perform like this was just great.”
After they competed, the team was so excited, because they knew that they had a very good chance of winning. Before awards, some of the girls started a train dancing and laughing around the whole gym. Pretty soon, every team in the gym joined the train, which turned into a huge circle of dancing cheerleaders.
Awards started with the JV teams announcing the top three places only. The JV team had a great routine, and have been doing been doing very well this season. They have won almost every competition they compete in. With a final score of 81.58 they won and became the new JV conference champions. Second place going to Grayslake Central and third to Crystal Lake Central.
The Fox Valley Conference is divided into two divisions the Fox division which is for the smaller schools and the Valley division which is for the bigger schools. The Fox division consists of Hampshire, Grayslake North, Crystal Lake Central, Prairie Ridge, Woodstock North, and Grayslake Central. The Valley division consists of Crystal Lake South, Huntley, Jacobs, Cary-Grove, McHenry, and Dundee-Crown.
The Fox division was announced first with Prairie Ridge in third with a score of 82.45, Grayslake Central in second with 88.28 and Crystal Lake Central in first with 89.15. As the announcer began to announce the Valley division, the Huntley girls grabbed hands and bowed their heads, something that most teams do. Since only the top three teams were announced, the girls had no way of knowing if they had won or not. Crystal Lake South got third place with a score of 82.35, Cary-Grove got second with 84.13, and Huntley got first with a score of 85.85. Huntley’s raw score was 86.85, but due to two steps out of bounds, they were docked a point, but that did not change their place.
When the announcer said the huntley won, the whole gym went crazy. Most of the seniors were crying, realizing that this was the last time they would ever be a FVC Champion. Friends and parents rushed the floor to take pictures of the three time conference champions the Huntley Red Raiders.
“Being on this team and being able to help to win for the third year in a row is the most amazing feeling in my entire life,” said Lucas.