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Prep gymnastics: Hickey back as Barbs look for a return to state tournament

SYCAMORE – After getting a street sign in Sycamore with her name on it for being the state champion in the vault last season, senior Madison Hickey is back to lead the DeKalb-Sycamore co-op gymnastics team for another state tournament run.

“It’s been really great, so far,” Hickey said. “I’m working really hard and trying to live up to my expectations. Hopefully, I can win more events. I’m just really excited for the season.”

Although Hickey took home an individual state title, the team failed to reach the state tournament. It had gone to the state tournament for three straight years, finishing second the last two.

Coach Andy Morreale feels that their one-year state tournament drought as a team will come to an end this season.

“I’m looking for some good things,” Morreale said. “I think we can get our way back to state as a team this year, maybe even fight for another medal. I think depth-wise, it's one of our strongest teams, even the ones that have placed [in the state tournament]. With that being said, the sky’s the limit.”

Part of that confidence comes from incoming freshman Madeline Kees, who already has taken on a big role on the team.

“[Kees] has been a Junior Olympic national champion, so she is going to help right away,” Morreale said. “Between the two Maddies (Hickey and Kees), we could have two all-arounders on the podium.”

Despite all of Kees' individual experience, she is new to the team atmosphere in high school.

“The first practice, I’m not going to lie, I was a little nervous and timid because it was a different group that I’m used to being in,” Kees said. “There were new girls, new faces, new people. The seniors have really helped me adjust and helped me feel real comfortable practicing with everyone.”

Morreale is relying on the senior leadership to help pull the group together and get the team back to the state title.

“Our seniors’, [Hickey], Kendall [Tucker] and Sammi [Keating], leadership is that they work hard,” Morreale said. “It’s not so much all the time with them vocal, but they work really hard, so the others kind of have to work hard or they feel out of place. It’s kind of nice when the leaders work hard. I think any coach wants that for their team.”

After getting over her early jitters, Kees is ready for her first high school season to begin.

“I’m really excited to be part of this team,” Kees said. “The energy feels real good. I’m excited to go into a program that has a good history, and I hope we can win a state title this year.”

Hickey already has been a part of that state championship pedigree and is ready to add to the team’s awards this year.

“It feels great,” Hickey said. “We’ve had a lot of great history with the team. I hope to make history, and my teammates do, too.”

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