Girls gymanstics: Balanced co-op looking to improve off back-to-back second-place finsihes at stateBy LENNY EISELEEmailDec. 8, 2017 SYCAMORE – After two straight second-place finishes at the state meet, the DeKalb-Sycamore girls gymnastics team is looking to finally clear the hurdle and become state champions with a young and deep team. [Photos by Matthew Apgar / Daily Chronicle]The team will have to find a replacement for the scoring of last year’s vault and uneven bars state champion Aleah Leman, who graduated in the spring. “It’s tough replacing Aleah. It’s tough replacing that type of score,” coach Andy Morreale said. “But after the first couple of weeks here, I think we’re going to be better and deeper. We might not be as good as that top score, but our bottom score will be better. So I think overall we might be a better team.”DeKalb-Sycamore only has one senior and four incoming freshmen competing on the team, so the team has a different feel from the senior-laden teams of the past. “Last year we lost a lot people, but this year we have a lot of new freshmen, so it’s interesting to see the dynamic change from a few people coming in to a lot,” lone senior Emily Jovanovich said. “All throughout the meets it’s going to be a blast to compete with them and hopefully we’ll win some medals and trophies.” Junior Madison Hickey looks to have a breakout season as an all-around performer after barely missing a top-five finish at the state meet last year, finishing sixth as a sophomore. “She’s finally putting it all together. She’s had the skills,” Morreale said. “She had a couple of mishaps last year, but this year I think she’s ready. She had a great offseason working. I think she’s ready.”Hickey strives to provide leadership, as well as high scores, to help her team succeed. “I feel like us juniors have to step it up and help Emily guide the team,” Hickey said. “We are feeling a little pressure, but I feel like if we keep working hard and trying to do our best, we’ll get there.” Junior Kendall Tucker, who is looking to have a big season after a shoulder injury last year, feels the new vibe the team’s youth brings.“It’s a new fresh energy. Everybody is excited to be here every day, so that’s good,” Tucker said. “I’m just excited to come back and show my new skills and skills I just got back.” While there is a serious goal to compete at the state tournament, the team still wants to enjoy their time.“We really want to try and win state. Last year we came really close and came in second, but I think we also want to have fun and not be too serious,” junior Sammi Keating said. “I think if you have a good time, you do good, too. Positive attitude equals positive times.”Matthew Apgar - firstname.lastname@example.org DeKalb-Sycamore co-op gymnastics coach Andy Morreale gives instruction during gymnastics practice on Monday, Nov. 20, 2017 at Energym in Sycamore.Matthew Apgar - email@example.com DeKalb-Sycamore Co-op gymnasts Lauren Leman (left) and Maddie Hickey talk between tumbles during their gymnastics practice on Monday, Nov. 20, 2017 at Energym in Sycamore.Matthew Apgar - firstname.lastname@example.org Maddie Hickey of the DeKalb-Sycamore co-op works on the uneven bars during gymnastics practice on Monday, Nov. 20, 2017 at Energym in Sycamore.