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Riley Mahoney has become quite the football fan.
This fall, the Cary-Grove sophomore has been rooting on her brother, Ryan Mahoney, a star running back on a Trojans squad that is making a deep run in the Class 6A playoffs.
“I’m his biggest fan and supporter,” Riley Mahoney said. “We’re really close and support each other.”
When she hasn’t been cheering Ryan on from the stands, Riley’s been inside training intensely for gymnastics. She returns this month as one of the top all-arounders in the state for a Prairie Ridge co-op team which should contend for its first state title in program history.
Prarie Ridge co-op consists of gymnasts from the District 155 schools: Cary-Grove, Prairie Ridge, Crystal Lake Central and Crystal Lake South. The squad took third in state last year and Mahoney placed sixth in the all-around (37.75). The only returning gymnasts to score higher were Carmel’s Lauren Feely (37.925) and Mahoney’s sophomore teammate, Rachael Underwood (38.1).
“Riley is a very hard worker and does everything I ask her to do,” Prairie Ridge coach Lee Battaglia said. “As far as talent, it’s like a dream with Riley and Rachael. They’ve been in the area since they were little kids so it’s great to see them maturing and turning into adults.”
Mahoney learned a lot over the summer and has added some difficult skills to an already impressive repertoire, including a double back on floor and a clear hip before her Gienger on bars.
“I’ve cleaned a lot of things up and am mentally stronger now,” she said. “The whole mental part of gymnastics is hard to grasp but I’ve gained it slowly.”
While high school graduation is still a few years away, Mahoney doesn’t hide her dreams of competing at the collegiate level. She believes such an opportunity will come with continued hard work, but for now, her goals are directed at a state title.
“I think about winning a state title all the time and definitely would love to achieve it,” she said. “I know I just have to push through the hard days, take it one day at a time and be mentally prepared.”
If all goes well, that opportunity could come to fruition in February at Palatine. One would imagine that Ryan would be in the stands this time doing the cheering.
“She works extremely hard and I don’t know how she can spend three hours at the gym everyday,” Ryan Mahoney said. “It’s just too bad gymnastics isn’t as much of a spectator sport as football. They should get just as much attention.”
Maybe they’ll get a state trophy instead.