Lyons rallies on beam to capture first state championship
Lyons' Katie Carling gets greated by coach Kari Karubas (left) after the beam. | Michael Schmidt~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 16, 2013 11:40PM
PALATINE — Dreams came true on beam for Lyons during Saturday’s IHSA girls gymnastics championships at Palatine High School.
Lyons trailed Prairie Ridge Co-op, 149.3 to 149.050, after Friday’s competition, but rallied behind unforgettable efforts from juniors Katie Carling and Michelle Cozza on beam.
Their scores helped Lyons earn its first state title, sneaking past Prairie Ridge, 149.625 to 149.3. It marked the first time that a team rallied for a victory on the second day of the finals since Addison Trail eclipsed Carmel in 1991.
The comeback actually began at the end of the bars competition as Cozza bested her 9.425 on Friday with a 9.5. That set the stage for Carling, who advanced to the finals with a 9.25 on Friday, but it paled in comparison to the 9.425 she delivered with a state championship on the line. The result forged a 149.3 tie with Prairie Ridge.
“I just went out there with nothing to lose,” Carling said. “Our motto all season has simply been to go out there and try to get better every time and it worked out.”
Glenbard North’s Mariah Matesi followed Carling on beam, which then paved the way for Cozza, who had scored a 9.2 on Friday.
“(Coach Kari Karubas) told me that Katie did a good job and to just go out there and relax,” Cozza said. “I just went out there and did the routine like I’ve been doing in practice all season.”
Cozza didn’t hesitate, delivering a crucial 9.375 to give Lyons the lead, one it wouldn’t relinquish.
Prairie Ridge, which had five chances to pad its team score to Lyons’ eight opportunities, only had Riley Mahoney on floor to stem the rally. Mahoney matched Friday’s 9.4 mark and Lyons clinched the state title.
“It was a nailbiter,” Karubas said. “We were wondering if we could do it and we knew going down to state we were going to throw everything and we did.”
Carmel senior Lauren Feely, who captured the all-around title on Friday, add championships on vault (9.825) and bars (9.625) to finish her career with 12 state medals.
Stevenson sophomore Alyssa Weisberg scored 9.525 to take first on beam.
“I was so happy with my dismount,” Weisberg said. “I’ve been trying to get it all year and it hasn’t worked and finally this was the moment to stick it. It was a great feeling.”
Kelsy Kurfirst put an exclamation point on Lyons’ team title by winning the floor exercise, the final event of the night, with a 9.725 — an improvement from her 9.575 on Friday.
“I definitely have my teammates to thank for that, because going into it I was so excited, especially since we found out we won the team award,” Kurfist said. “I had a lot of fun with it. It was icing on the cake.”