Girl’s gymnastics return to state for second year in a row

    The Lake park girl’s gymnastics team returned to state, as a team, for the second year in a row and for the 6th time in program history. After last season’s 5th placement as best team in state in addition to a regional championship, the skilled group of young gymnasts were determined to return.
    “I think the experience of having been there was an advantage and helped them stay focused on improving upon last year’s finish,” said Coach Jake Luketin. Not only did these girls represent Lake Park at state but also by being the Dukane conference champions and regional champions setting a season high record of 144.875, and further representing with a first place win at the York Invite and the Neuqua Valley Invite.
    The two day state championship meet was held at Palatine high school where Lake Park captured a state medal thanks to Julia Bartnik (LP ‘24) who placed 3rd in vault and was awarded senior gymnast of the year by the Illinois Girl’s Gymnastics Coaches Association. Coach Luketin said Julia has been known by the LP girl’s gymnastics community as “the most decorated girls gymnast in LP history,”
    Some of her major achievements include this season’s state finals as well as last seasons state finals: a 1st place finish on vault with a 9.775 out of 10 which also broke the LP record for vault, a 3rd place finish on balance beam with a 9.425, and a 5th place finish on floor with a 9.325. As an experienced senior she provides some words of advice to all the young female gymnasts hoping to advance in their gymnastics career.
    “No matter where you start, work your hardest to become the best that you can be and exceed your expectations. Being a good gymnast is not only being talented at the sport; it’s also having good sportsmanship, being supportive, working hard even when no one is watching, being able to balance school and a sport, and being a leader.”
    Looking over her career at LP, Julia said “I really loved building amazing friendships with my teammates that will last a lifetime.”
    Cali Keefe (LP ‘24) another notable senior known for her outstanding leadership and role model qualities, and Julia were the team’s “all-around” gymnasts this season, meaning they competed in all 4 events. In the state meet, Lake Park also clinched the highest team beam score and the highest team floor score.
    Although LP did have stronger events at state with balance beam and floor, LP tried to become more balanced overall to avoid having one stronger or weaker event, which allows the team to be at the same level in all events. This factor is why Lake Park girls gymnastics is a bit more unique.
    “We use more individual event specialists than other schools. Most schools will build their lineup with several all-arounds and fewer specialists,” Coach Luketin said.
    The preparation and the dedication don’t go unnoticed and have paid off for LP this season, specifically seen at big meets such as state. On top of their 6-day 3-hour practices where the team works on improving their skills and fixing certain areas within their routines, the team also works on emulating the feeling of competition to help normalize and minimize the stress on meet day, just as if the gymnasts were at another practice. Aside from pursuing big wins, the girls look forward to the ”Wheaton co-op,” a meet where LP goes against a combined team from Wheaton Warrenville South High School and Wheaton North High School, taking turns hosting each year. Throughout the season LP goes against both of these schools many times especially at conference, sectionals, and at various Saturday invites. Additionally, the gymnasts make a goal of prioritizing, and taking advantage of competing against the strongest teams in the state, which later on helps them measure their success, analyze their opponents, and understand their skill level for future meets.
    The future for LP girls gymnastics is bright especially after their success from the past seasons. Thanks to the large sophomore class (next year to be juniors) LP gymnastics have set a good foundation for success in the future especially considering a few of the sophomores participated in the state meets this year.

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