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Lococo is state champion

Carmel gymnast tops the state championship while team places fourth

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The winners podium is not an unfamiliar location for Carmel gymnasts, but the top spot has been elusive for the whole team.

That streak ended over the weekend when senior Sammi Lococco destroyed her floor exercise in the IHSA State Championship competition at Palatine High School and edged out the rest of the field with a strong score of 9.600.

“After her performance on Saturday, I knew she would place. I knew she won,” senior supporter Rose Poplowski said.

When the number one popped up next to Lococo’s name, Carmel’s gymnastics team, parents, and students leapt to their feet to cheer for the newest Illinois High School Association’s state champion.

“It’s definitely surreal to see what I have pictured in my head actually happen,” Lococo said. “It still really hasn’t sunk in.”

Over the last four years, Lococo’s floor exercise has been among the best in the state when she took third place in state during her sophomore year and fifth place last year when she was a junior.

“The dedication and hard work she has put into making her routine really shows when she performs,” Poplowski said. “Every time I watch it I’m amazed.”

Lococo is still trying to take it all in and realize what she has done.

“When I was up on the podium I couldn’t even think because all I could hear was the screams of support from my teammates, my family, my friends, and my coaches,” Lococo said.

The team as a whole had grabbed one of the final at-large spots in the state final, and, at first, it seemed as though they may have taken full advantage of their second chance. Halfway through the rotations, Carmel stood atop the team standings by nearly two full points.

A couple falls on the balance beam and uneven bars made it clear that the team was going to come up a little short in their quest for the state title.

As a team, the Corsair gymnasts finished fourth in the state, after holding off a late charge from New Trier High School. Although it wasn’t the result the team had hoped for, they were all ecstatic for Lococo.

“We had a couple of bumps in the road at state,” senior Anna Osowski said. “But watching Sammi win floor made our experience that much more special.”

The senior-heavy team, however,  is not looking back with any regrets. They are proud of what they have accomplished and say they will cherish their friendships forever.

“Gymnastics is all any of us talk about, so it will be weird that 6 of us (seniors) will be gone from the team,” Osowski said. “Going to state one last time was a blessing. Our team has such a strong bond.”

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Lococo is state champion