The Mundelein boys gymnastics team could not have asked for a much better effort than it put together Wednesday night at the Independent Conference meet.
The Mustangs scored a season-high 144.97 points in the six-team meet at Stevenson to roll to their second straight conference championship by a comfortable margin over runner-up Lake Park with 140.35 points.
The host Patriots placed third with a solid 135.95 score to easily outdistance Glenbard South (123.8) in fourth. Fenton (118.15) and Libertyville (107.9) rounded out the field.
Besides the conference crown, Mundelein looks like it has put itself in a pretty good position to contend for the Palatine sectional title a week from Saturday as a few factors should really help them push the host Pirates in that meet.
For starters, Mundelein sophomore Colin McCarthy soared to the all-around championship with 51.6 points Wednesday. But according to Mundelein coach Jesse Piland, it was far from McCarthy's best meet and he is expected to score higher at the sectional.
The other bright spot for the Mustangs was the return of senior Tim Beranek on high bar. He is expected to compete on at least four events at the sectional, which would give Mundelein's team score an even bigger boost.
"We're peaking at the right time and we had a couple of guys really step up and they made up for some missed routines," said Piland, whose team scored a season-high 26.3 points on parallel bars. "Our parallel bars saved us tonight, and we did better on parallel bars than we did on vault (25.75)."
Mundelein sophomore Cameron Mueller was another big factor for the Mustangs with a fourth-place total of 48.6 points in the all-around. Beranke, who'd missed most of the season due to a wrist injury, added a third-place 7.6 on his high bar routine.
"I'm hoping to compete in all-around (at sectionals), but if not I will compete on everything but vault and floor exercise," Beranek said. "Right now I'm 90 percent, I just got a cortisone shot last week and that really helped my wrist a lot. We had a good meet and our third scores really stepped up."
Stevenson's third-place effort was led by freshman Arie Feltman-Frank with a runner-up score of 49.45 points in the all-around competition. The Patriots and Libertyville will also be competing at the Palatine sectional to begin their state series.
"We had quite a few more misses than usual, but our top two guys (Jacob Guth and Kyle Weichselbaum) did well on floor exercise," said Stevenson coach Dexter Victoria. "We just want them to have a set routine to get ready for sectionals next week. Everybody is pushing and trying to get their routines together just like us before sectionals."
Lake Park's Sam Flory (48.95 points) placed third in the all-around followed by Guth (44.3) in fifth and Lake Park's Chris Avvisati (42.15) in sixth. Weichselbaum (41.6) placed seventh overall followed by Fenton's Eric Owusu (41.4) in eighth, and Libertyville's Evan Policht (41.1) in ninth. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, Policht sustained a potentially serious left ankle injury to close out his meet on floor.
"All of the guys are pulling together and when it's time to turn it on they were ready to focus," said Libertyville coach Josh Cimo. "Evan (Policht) is like another coach in the gym and he's grown a lot maturity-wise over the course of the season."
McCarthy won floor exercise (9.4) and parallel bars (9.2) while Feltman-Frank (8.4) placed first on high bar. Flory (9.3) was the pommel horse champ with teammate Mac Allen (9.0) winning still rings. Glenbard South's Paul Steger (9.2) took home first on vault.
Mueller added second-place marks of 9.1 on parallel bars and 8.9 on still rings while Feltman-Frank (8.6) was the runner-up on pommel horse.
"They looked great, but we just can't seem to get the stuck routines when we need them," added Piland. "Colin (McCarthy) struggled mightily tonight, but he had a good pommel horse routine."