Girls Gymnastics: Andrew’s Jamie Valla, Shepard Skylor Hilger qualify for state
By Jeff Vorva For Sun-Times Media February 6, 2013 10:58PM
Andrew's Jamie Valla performs on the uneven parallel bars during the Hinsdale Central girls gymnastics sectional Wednesday, February 6, 2013. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 8, 2013 7:36AM
Andrew’s Jamie Valla is back in the state finals. Shepard’s Skylor Hilger will be making her first appearance there.
The two Southland stars finished third and fourth, respectively, Wednesday night in the Hinsdale Central Sectional. Valla had an all-around of 37.575, with Hilger was right behind with a 37.575.
Valla, a senior, qualified for state her freshman and sophomore years but injured her right Achilles tendon warming up in this same gym before sectional competition as a junior.
It appeared late-season injuries could slow her down again as Valla hurt her solios tendon in January and also nursed a bone spur and cyst in her right leg. She competed in just one event in the SouthWest Suburban Conference Meet, denying her a shot at becoming the first athlete in the league to win an all-around title four times.
Three days later, she performed in pain to win the all-around title in the Neuqua Valley Regional and gutted it out Wednesday night.
“I came in with a positive attitude and hoped that what happened last year wasn’t going to happen again this year,” she said. “It was hurting pretty bad but I knew I had to just fight through it if I wanted to get back to the state meet.”
Hilger burst back onto the gymnastics scene this season after taking three years off from the sport. Despite the time off and the fact she’s just a freshman, she has enjoyed a successful season that included an all-around championship in the Hinsdale Central Regional.
“I already made my goal just by being here,” Hilger said. “Anything I did today was past my goal, so I was just going for the best I could. I had career-highs in my vault (9.500) and floor (9.450), so I’m pretty happy.’’
It appears no other Southland athlete will qualify for the state meet with an at-large bid. Lincoln-Way co-op’s Shelby Wiktor, whose team finished fourth in the meet, was eighth in the floor exercise with an 8.975. Homewood-Flossmoor’s Aleigha Williams took ninth in the all-around and Lincoln-Way’s Kaila Pohrte took 10th.