Lincoln-Way Co-op showed why it is the top-ranked boys gymnastics team in Illinois Friday night in the sixth annual Ed Raymond Invite at Conant High School.
Lincoln-Way racked up a season-high best score of 162.40 despite a week of practice where it struggled with injuries.
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"Considering the conditions - we were pretty banged up this week - we did OK, but we still have a lot of room to improve," said Lincoln-Way coach Skip Adamson, a former New Trier East gymnast. "It was a great meet for us because we don't get to see a lot of Mid-Suburban League teams. We came here to see Conant and Palatine, and I thought both were very well-coached."
The Cougars took second place in the 13-team event with a score of 154.90 followed by Palatine (146.40), Fremd (142.45), Naperville North (137.05) and Buffalo Grove (136.55).
Isaac Kruspe of Lincoln-Way (54.6) won the all-around, followed by teammates Ryan Mars (53.1) and Ajani Cargle (52.7).
Palatine's Mike Abram (52.0) notched fourth-place honors while Conant's Anthony Crivolio (51.9) was fifth.
Libertyville's Craig Breckenridge (51.5), Conant's Joey Mauk (51.4), Conant's Steve Rink (50.4), Fremd's Brandon Trostud (48.6) and Leyden's Allen Paczynski rounded out the top 10.
"Lincoln-Way is the odds-on favorite to win state," said Palatine coach Scott Hagel. "They have some very big tricks and they throw them clean.
"We were very happy with our effort. I think we'll go back and forth with Fremd until the sectional meet. It can go either way between the two of us. It just depends on who hits."
Conant coach Paul Kim feels his Cougars can hit better then they did Friday.
"We had an off meet," he said. "We had two major falls on the floor but even with that, I thought our kids picked things up in the second half of the meet to get us in the mid-150s. I know we are a lot better than what we showed."
Junior Steve Rink continued to show he is a solid performer for the Cougars, taking second place on the pommel horse (8.6) and fifth on the horizontal bars (8.9).
"He just quietly keeps giving solid scores," Kim said. "He's coming along well and did a nice job at this meet."
"We could have done better," Rink said. "We messed up on the floor a bit. Our goal is to beat 160. That's pretty much what we'll work for the next two weeks."
Abram worked well on the floor exercise where he chalked up a personal-high 9.3 for second place.
"I added a new first pass," the senior said. "I had a few extra little tricks I've been working on in practice."
Senior Dave Allison helped boost Fremd's score with his 9.2 on the floor, which tied him for third.
"I felt like I hit it well," Allison said. "Our coach (Tim Hamman) keeps telling us we have to work hard to get to the upper 140s. We are all motivating each other for that."
Hamman said there are things the Vikes must clean up if they want to compete with Palatine the next two weeks.
"It's going to be fun competition between us and Palatine," he said. "We didn't do too bad in this meet."
Buffalo Grove's Eugene Blackmon scored a personal best 9.2 in vault (tied for seventh) while teammate Erik Balko had a solid 9.3 for third place. The Bison's Mark O'Leary hit 7.8 on pommel horse, a personal high which gave him his first varsity medal.
Jim Brault highlighted Prospect's seventh-place finish with a tie for 12th in the all-around (47.6).
"He's pretty consistent," said Knights coach Pat Kivland. "He's up near the 50s all the time for all-around. He's one of the best kids I've ever had and probably the best leader I've had."
Buffalo Grove coach Chris Stevens and Leyden coach Jason Suchy were back at their alma mater.
"It's definitely nice to come back to Conant," said Suchy, who was teammates with Stevens for two years at Conant.