Jonah Hinz and Palatine got their wish Saturday.
Hinz had his best meet of the season to capture the all-around title while helping lead the Pirates to the team title at the Palatine boys gymnastics sectional. The means Hinz and Palatine have earned an automatic berth at next weekend's state finals at Lincoln-Way East in Frankort.
Palatine scored a season-best 152.85 to qualify for the state finals for the fourth time in the last five years. Mundelein was second with a 150.40 and will also qualify for the finals as an at-large team. Fremd was third with a 143.35, Stevenson fourth with a 140.40 and Buffalo Grove fifth with a 138.15.
"It was an outstanding meet for us," Palatine coach Scott Hagel said. "We just had one of those meets where things happened for us.
"We are very excited. This has been our goal all season, and to score our best makes it all we can ask for."
Hagel also got strong performances from Mike Jankovec, who had a career-best 9.65 on the floor to earn him a trip to the finals. Matt Lee also was an automatic qualifier while Lucas Price qualified as an at-large on the pommel horse.
Mundelein coach Jesse Piland was pleased with his team's performance, which will earn the Mustangs a second consecutive trip to the state finals.
"We took a gamble and kept Tim (Beranek) out all year," said Piland whose team's best score previsouly this season had been a 144.90.
"He had been hurt and we wanted to rest him until the end. Not only was he healthier, but the whole team got better because they got more reps in practice and in our meets.
Hinz also captured an individual title on his way to his winning all-around score of 54.25. Mundelein's Colin McCarthy was second in the all-around with a 52.65, Fremd's C.J.Patton was third with a 50.55, Mundelein's Cameron Mueller was fourth with a 50.05 while Stevenson's Arie Feltman-Frank was fifth with a 49.35.
"I have been working harder in practice," said Hinz, who also won the parallel bars with a 9.35 and was second in three other events. "I have been more focused and just taking care of the little things. I am really looking forward to state next week."
McCarthy has been taking care of the little things as well. The sophomore was nearly perfect in winning the floor with a 9.90.
"It was hard coming from high bar, where I fell," said McCarthy, who also won the vault with a 9.55. "I am just clean out there when I do my floor routine. I have been doing this routine since last year, so I have had a lot of time to compete it and do it well."
Patton came back from a subpar pommel horse last week at the MSL conference meet to score a 9.55 and a victory on the horse Saturday.
"Everything flowed almost perfectly for me today," said Patton, who had a career-best all-around score. "Last week there was a lot of pressure that I wasn't used to. But I learned from that and was able to handle it better today."
Mueller may have made the biggest strides of any all-arounder this year. The sophomore began the season as a 42.00 all-arounder and improved by over 8 points through the season.
"It has been a lot of hard work," said Mueller, who won the still rings with a 9.35. "I have been pushing myself hard, and the coaches have worked even harder with me. I knew I could do much better."
Feltman-Frank won the high bar with a 9.15 to lead the Patriots,
It almost started out badly for Fremd when Bobby Wongkamalasai injured himself on the high bar during warm-ups. The senior smashed both his shins into the bar, but was able to recover to qualify for state on both the floor and vault.
"I was a little worried," Wongkamalasai said. "But I didn't want my season to end like this. So I just beat back the pain and competed. Under the circumstances, I thought I did pretty well."
Joining Wongkamalasai for the Vikings will be Kyle Stevenson, who qualified on the pommel horse, and Quin Bley and Itaru Wakbayashi on the still rings.
"We had a great meet, especially considering how it started," Fremd coach Tim Hamman said. "We ended with our highest score of the season. It just wasn't high enough to make it to state."
Buffalo Grove's David Kavalerchik qualified on the high bar and was sixth in the all-around with a 49.10.
Hersey's David Jackowski (floor) was the Huskies' only automatic qualifier. Coach Mason Vernon is hoping that a couple others can make it as at-large qualifiers.
"It was not as good as we hoped," Vernon said. "We were up on the floor first and kind of nervous out there."