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PR gymnasts’ future looks bright after 2nd-place finish

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(Erica Benson – ebenson@shawmedia.com )
Prairie Ridge's Rachael Underwood celebrates her dismount from the uneven parallel bars Saturday during the state gymnastics meet at Palatine High School. Underwood tied for second place on the bars.

The second-place trophy Prairie Ridge’s girls gymnastics team held and posed with was not really the one it wanted.

Lyons pretty much stole that one Saturday night at the IHSA Girls Gymnastics State Meet. Prairie Ridge had been better almost the entire season, but Lyons was remarkably clutch in the finals to grab first.

Although Prairie Ridge was not too disappointed, it stung a little after taking a lead of 0.25 into the finals.

“I believe we have some unfinished business to do,” sophomore Riley Mahoney said. “We hope to be back here, we’re super-excited. Obviously, we were more excited about the first-place trophy, but runner-up, you can’t ask for more than that after being third [last year].”

The Wolves, a co-op team that takes athletes from Cary-Grove, Crystal Lake Central, Crystal Lake South and Prairie Ridge, should be excited about the future. Mahoney and Rachael Underwood, who tied for second in the all-around Friday and won two more top-three medals Saturday, are sophomores. So is Jada Berkland, who showed what she could do this season after a freshman year limited by injuries.

They also have junior Dylann Perrone, junior Sarah Kramer and freshman Maddie Solka returning.

“The future looks real bright,” said Lee Battaglia, Prairie Ridge’s coach and the owner of Crystal Lake Gymnastics Training Center, where the girls all train. “Lyons’ future looks bright, too. Everything is a learning experience for us. We’ll go now and compete in club and learn from that.”

Mahoney may need some time off to rest her achy back. She got through the weekend and performed well with help from Advil, Icy Hot and the adrenaline once she was competing.

“It’s very exciting to know we keep going up each year,” said Underwood, who was part of last year’s third-place team. “We’re going to practice and perfect our routines and come out strong again next year.”

The Wolves will have two standouts at the top of the lineup again with Underwood and Mahoney, and again will have depth with the others. That little extra hunger after coming up just short might not hurt either next year.

“We’re definitely excited about the next two years,” Berkland said. “We kind of have a pact, us four, and we’re excited. This season we all tried our hardest and did our best. I don’t know what happened, but Lee’s proud of us and we’re proud of each other.”

• Joe Stevenson is a senior sports writer for the Northwest Herald. He can be reached by email at joestevenson@shawmedia.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @nwh_JoePrepZone.

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