Blue Dukes hold off Highlanders in thrilling gymnastics finale

Both sides show off their good health

Feb. 21, 2012

It was as if the little auxiliary gym at Whitefish Bay was going to explode with the intensity of the effort Friday in the North Shore/Greater Metro Conference meet.

"Everyone (the fans) are so close and it gets so loud, I don't know how people can focus," Menomonee Falls/Germantown coach Tracy Howard said.

But concentrate they did, as an inspired Whitefish Bay team turned in a smashing effort in its last event, the balance beam, and held off a spirited charge from a revived Homestead crew to win its fourth straight league title.

"They (the Highlanders) really brought their 'A' game," Blue Dukes coach Mary Liniewski said. "I don't think we could have given any more than we had.

"After three events, it couldn't have been more than a couple of tenths of a point (apart).

"But I never tell my girls know that. They have enough to think about without being distracted by something like that."

Nailing the beam

But the senior-dominated Blue Dukes acted like the experienced hands they are, as Maggie Anderson (second, 9.3); Sofie Yang (third, 9.275), Kelly Danek (sixth, 9.1) and Lucy Anzia (8.85) combined on the beam to turn in the best event of the day for Bay with a score of 36.55.

That was enough for a season best 143.975 score that held off the inspired Highlanders (142.275).

"We were going on bars, not our best event," Highlanders coach Mike Giles said, "but they (the Blue Dukes) went out and crushed beam. It's all to their credit, because you win or lose over the course of four events."

Both teams, along with Nicolet (sixth in the meet with a 132.55 total) and Shorewood (eighth with a 119.0 score) will take part in WIAA sectional competition this weekend.

Both Bay and Homestead turned in their excellent scores behind healthier lineups, as high-level performers Sofie Yang for Bay and Cori Sanduski of Homestead were able to do more events.

"Cori was basically begging me to do more," Giles said, noting that she was finally cleared this week after a recent injury.

Yang was pressing on despite the pain of a still healing foot injury.

And leadership came from Bay's Maggie Anderson, who broke her own school record in the all-around with a 37.575 mark.

"But the great thing was," Liniewski said, "is that the kids are learning to get it done whether Maggie has a good day or not."

Anderson won the floor exercise (9.55), and was second on vault (9.4) and uneven bars (9.325).

Other top places for the Blue Dukes included Danek seventh on floor (9.075), Tessa Hansen seventh on vault (8.975) and Yang (8.7), Danek (8.65) and Tory Patek (8.6), sixth, eighth, and ninth, respectively, on the bars.

"This was the first goal for the seniors," Liniewski said. "Go out strong, become four-time champions. Win the title in your gym. I couldn't be more proud, I really felt the energy."

Sanduski leads Highlanders

For Homestead, Sanduski was fourth on beam (9.225) and sixth on bars (8.7) to serve as the emotional leader, while Amanda Hopkins won the vault with a 9.525 effort.

Other top efforts included Hopkins fifth (9.175) and Brittany Emond 10th on balance beam (8.875).

Emond was fifth (9.125), Amy Schiman sixth (9.1), and Elyssa Tracy (9.05) and Hopkins 10th (9.0) on floor, which turned out to be Homestead's best event.

Monica Caputa was sixth (9.15) on vault, while Emond was fourth (8.85) and Tracy 10th (8.575) on bars.

Emond was sixth in the all-around (34.475) while Hopkins was eighth (35.0).

"This was really all nerve-racking Mary told me," Giles said. "I had no idea how close it was, but I was just thrilled with how well the kids performed. We were extremely happy with how hard the kids competed."

Down to the wire

Whitefish Bay wins fourth straight league title in gymnastics.

NICOLET RESULTS: Top efforts for the Knights included a ninth by Valerie Whittle on beam (8.9). She was 12th in the all-around (34.25) while Kim Charles was 11th in floor (8.95).

SHOREWOOD RESULTS: Asia Cruz was 14th on beam (8.575) and the all-around (33.35).

WIAA SECTIONALS: Homestead hosts and Nicolet will be a part of a Division 1 meet at 10 a.m. Saturday. Bay hosts and Shorewood will be a part of a Division 2 meet at 4:30 p.m. Friday. The top two teams and first individuals in all events, including all-around, advance to the state meet in Wisconsin Rapids on March 2 and 3.

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