Scouting DuPage County girls gymnastics

  • Alina Bhagwakar is one of the top returning gymnasts on a Glenbard West team expected to be one of the best in the area again.

    Alina Bhagwakar is one of the top returning gymnasts on a Glenbard West team expected to be one of the best in the area again. Daily Herald file photo

 
By Chris Walker
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 12/2/2021 9:57 AM

Top returning teams: Downers Grove co-op, Glenbard West, Hinsdale Central, Naperville North, Neuqua Valley, Wheaton co-op, Willowbrook

Top returning athletes: Downers Grove co-op -- Natalie Simpson (Sr., all-around), Kathryn Snouffer (Sr., all-around), Emily Smetana (Sr., all-around); Glenbard East -- (Riley Olson, Sr., all-around); Glenbard North -- Brooklyn McQuillan (Jr., all-around); Glenbard West -- (Alina Bhagwakar, Sr., all-around), Samantha Hopper (Jr., all-around), Skylar Oh (Jr., all-around); Hinsdale Central -- (Audrey Austin, Jr., all-around), Kelly Klobach (Sr., all-around); Lake Park -- (Paula Naronowicz, Sr., all-around); Naperville North -- (Abby Aldrich, Jr., all-around), (Katie Kristle, Sr., all-around); Neuqua Valley (Haley Fitzgerald, So., all-around), (Amelia Wachtel, Sr., all-around); Waubonsie Valley/Metea Valley co-op -- (Stephanie Svec, Jr., all-around); Wheaton co-op -- (Ashley Huang, Jr., all-around); Willowbrook -- (Bella Naumovsky, Sr., all-around), (Tess Placek, Sr., all-around); York -- (MaryAlice Shockey, Sr., all-around).

 

Season outlook: Addison Trail returned senior Delaney Gregory, junior Maddie Mucciantia and sophomores Nicolette Francak and Brooke Greaves so the Blazers have solid experience this winter.

Downers Grove co-op is looking to rebuild its fourth and fifth spots in the lineup. Senior Katrina Carlson and juniors Kathryn Snouffer, Emily Smetana and Natalie Simpson are all-arounders while senior specialist Gretchen Lucina returns and freshman all-arounder Allison Palansky joins the squad.

Fenton will compete in a conference-only schedule this winter with an almost entirely new squad. Freshman Guadalupe Martell and Juliana Ramos and sophomores Mia Martinez and Dominika Wandachowicz join the Bison while junior Daphne Castillo returns. "We look forward to a new beginning and hope to rebuild the team with the return of in-school learning," Bison coach Paula Parat said.

Glenbard East has a smaller team than it has had in recent years and its lineup took some big hits due to graduation. The Rams will rely heavily on contributions from sophomores Olivia Broyles, Emma Iwaniszyn and Abbie Johnson, junior Ella Kud and senior Riley Olson to continue the program's recent success.

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Glenbard North has 5 newcomers, including freshman Mia Staff and sophomore Klemenswicz joining returnees Alaina Chapel and Brooklyn McQuillan. "They have all competed together at Gymnasti so hopefully we can build this team to be an extremely strong one," Panthers coach Dennis Wellman said. "We are young but very eager."

Glenbard South coach Lee Wood said he's "very excited to be back doing a full season with one of the most gifted groups of young ladies" he has worked with in Glen Ellyn. All-arounders Skylar Fischer, Bella Krabec, Brooke Poltrock and Megan Wujek return while freshman Alea Hagemeyer is a newcomer to watch.

Glenbard West has a lot of depth and talent once again so the Hilltoppers should be one of the top teams around. "This is a well-balanced team with strong leadership and a large junior and senior class of gymnasts," Glenbard West coach Carlos Fuentes said. Seniors Alina Bhagwakar and Megan McNamara, juniors Skylar Oh, Brooklyn Ford, Samantha Hopper, Breana Gama and Autumn White and sophomore Janelle Gama return while freshmen Grace Flint and Leah Chapski join the team.

Hinsdale Central has a dynamic 1-2 punch in all-arounders Audrey Austin and Kelly Klobach and will look to pick up its other scores from a mix of newcomers, including two-event specialist Annette Sommers. Junior Charlotte French and freshman Leila Sullivan joined Sommers, a senior, as key newcomers. "If we can stay healthy, we should have a great season," Red Devils coach Kim Estoque said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Hinsdale South is heavy on freshman and juniors with Aileen Balcazar and newcomer Ashley Berg as the lone returning senior and key sophomore on a team that has good numbers with juniors Julia Ardrzejka, Noelle Arflack, Megan Makita, Lizzie Tabachnikov and Mackenzie Waite and freshmen Madison Amolsch (daughter of coach Jarrod Amolsch), Rory Angelo, Ameera Dahleh, Caitlin Fisher and Casey Fundator.

Lake Park will need its top returnees, including sophomore Julia Bartnik and its four newcomers to all contribute and stay healthy if the Lancers hope to continue being among the state's elite teams. Bartnik broke her leg on her first vault in her first meet as a freshman. All-arounder Paula Naronowicz and fellow senior specialists Alyssa Mizzi and Anna Jung and sophomore Cali Keefe are also back.

Naperville Central is excited to get back to normal this season and has a nice mix of fresh new faces along with some veterans. All-arounders Namrata Bhattacharjee, Erin Gugora and Tammy Bajek return to the 11-member squad while sophomore Gabriela Tapia is a notable newcomer.

Naperville North coach Chris Stanicek likes his team's foundation with seniors Katie Kristle, Evie Glaze and Dana Blakey and junior Abby Aldrich returning. "We have talent and hopefully we can come together as a team and find success," Stanicek said. The arrival of senior newcomers Aiyanna Clemens, Kyha Smith and Rigley Jump into the mix has the Huskies poised for a huge winter.

Neuqua Valley doesn't have any new gymnasts but the Wildcats sustained some personnel losses after placing second in the DVC Meet in March. Coach Kathleen Novorolsky welcomes back Haley Fitzgerald, Susan Jones and Amelia Wachtel.

Waubonsie Valley/Metea Valley co-op is rebuilding, says first-year head coach Ashley Piton. The team is adding 8 new athletes. Junior Stephanie Svec returns from a severe injury and sophomore all-arounders Hailey Mitchell and Emily Ruprich return to help lead the team with her.

Wheaton co-op has established a goal of scoring in the 140s throughout the season. The program lost 5 seniors from last year but coach Maureen Kermend likes what is in her gym with all-arounder Ashley Huang leading the way and the addition of some former club kids. Juniors Allie Kroger and Ella Schecter return in while senior Maleah Crowley and sophomores Haylie Hickley, Lillian Monino and Jordan Wach are among the talented new crop of gymnasts.

Willowbrook should put up some big scores this winter with seniors Bella Naumovsky and Tess Placek to lead the way for interim head coach Andy Isaacson as coach Deanna Zuchowski is on maternity leave. Juniors Sarah Ball, Hanna Mitrick and Molly Morris and sophomore Mia McBridge will look to complete the team's scoring.

York has a veteran group returning led by senior all-arounder MaryAlice Shockey while welcoming some talented underclassmen, including Hayley Schiltz and Mia Carone, both who are freshmen. Hannah Aubrey, Lily Cmiel, Angelina DeBlasio, Olivia Hyso and Martha Miklyukh offer talent and experience.

-- Chris Walker

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