Naperville Central senior Vanessa Henry wasn't going to let an ankle injury get in the way of her final girls gymnastics regional.
The Redhawks most certainly needed her.
Henry finished fifth in the all-around with a 33.975 and Naperville Central squeezed past Neuqua Valley, 137.25 to 136.7 in Tuesday's Neuqua Valley regional.
The Redhawks advance to next Wednesday's Hinsdale Central sectional. The top five placers in each event, as well as the all-around also advance, while others may qualify as well via at-large berths once the numbers are in from all the regionals in the sectional quadrant.
"We knew coming in that it would be close and we talked to the girls about it and told them it would come down to beam," Redhawks coach Glen Reimers said. "They hit four out of five on beam, had a little pep talk afterward and then finished strong on floor. They all did a great job."
Sophomore Jill Schuberth led the way for the winners, winning beam with an 8.9, floor with a 9.25 and vault with a 9.525. She also captured the all-around title with a 35.75. Schuberth wasn't on the team a year ago, so this was her first experience in the state series and she nailed it.
"I was just hoping to be on the podium at least once, so to win three of the four events was really amazing," Schubert said. "I'm really just grateful to be on this team and to be able to help out. The team has worked so hard and they totally deserve this."
Henry's had plenty of experience over the years in the state series, and when she banged up her ankle in warm-ups, she simply took a deep breath, had more tape applied and didn't miss a beat.
"Being a senior I knew I had to go out there and give it my all," she said. "We haven't won one of these in a while so to go out there and get one means a lot to our team."
Senior Claire Savard added an 8.725 on vault and 8.7 on beam for the winners, while junior Lea Savard offered an 8.65 on vault and fellow junior Danielle Breeden had the team's high mark of 8.175 on bars.
This may not be Neuqua Valley's year to get to a sectional, or the Wildcats may still get there. Either way, the Wildcats had to be thrilled with scoring a season-high 136.7 points, while Emily Jacobs and Isis Ruff went 2-3 in the all-around. Jacobs also won bars with an 8.7.
"We've really improved a lot since early in the season," Jacobs said. "We're pretty happy."
The comforts of competing at home were apparent.
"It always feels more comfortable at home, and we've been here a lot lately," Ruff said. "You get used to the equipment and everything else in the gym."
Freshman Colleen Moauro added a 33.9 in the all-around, while Shaniah Lim was sixth on vault with an 8.75 and Allie Winek had a team-best 8.65 to take third on floor.
Sandburg/Stagg co-op took third with a 123.275 and Riverside-Brookfield was fourth with a 118.025.