David Kavalerchik knew he needed get stronger. So the Buffalo Grove gymnast spent the entire off-season working out at a local gym lifting weights.
Kavalerchik's hard work paid dividends as he packed on nearly 20 pounds of muscle and increased his strength. The Buffalo Grove senior got a got a huge bonus on Saturday at the Niles West Invitational in Skokie, when he scored a career-best 8.70 on the rings to finish first out of 69 competitors.
"I wasn't able to do the things I did today a year ago," said Kavalerchik, who was fourth in the all-around with a 48.075, second in the high bar with an 8.20 and fifth on the parallel bars with an 8.25.
"My giants today on the rings were the best I have ever done," Kavalerchik said. "I am much stronger out there and because of that I was also able to do my cross."
Buffalo Grove coach Zach Crandall says that Kavalerchik's hard work is paying off.
"David had very good meet overall," Crandall said. "His rings were terrific today. You can see how much stronger he is."
With Kavalerchik leading the way the Bison finished a strong third in the meet with a 137.80. Sophomore Tyler Cho, who was tied for sixth on the floor with an 8.70 and had a career-best 8.825 on the vault to finish eighth, Zac Halap, who was eighth on the parallel bars with an 8.00 along with Kirtan Patel, who had a 7.45 on the rings and Jake Siebert, who had a 7.05 to finish 11th on the rings, also came up strong for the Bison.
"We definitely had some areas of improvement," Crandall said. "Our depth has been good and it shows. That's the nice thing. We have 4-5 solid scores on each event."
While Buffalo Grove has been solid, Conant is becoming a rock. The Cougars scored a 145.15 to easily best Glenbrook North's 140.80 for the team title.
"Everyone is helping," Conant coach Mike Opsal said. "It is trick by trick and even by event. But we are getting stronger.
"We were hoping to do well today. It was a huge surprise to beat Glenbrook North, because they came into the season as one of the top teams in the state."
Joey Mauk came up big for the Cougars winning the parallel bars with a 9.50 and the vault with a 9.20. Mauk was second in both the floor (9.30) and pommel horse (7.90) and third in the high bar (8.10).
Mauk's five-event total of 44.00, would have placed him fifth in the all-around. But Mauk was not eligible for a medal because he is still being held out of the rings to rest his shoulder.
"There is no need to push him on rings right now," Opsal said. "Maybe he can go later in the season. But right now we have five other guys we can count on."
"I can wait to go in the all-around," Mauk said. "I was really happy with my parallel bars.
While Mauk was stellar in his performance, Brian Reedy was nearly as good. Reedy finished third in the all-around with a 48.10 and was fourth in the parallel bars (8.30) and 5th in the rings (7.60) and high bar (7.65).
The Cougars also got another strong performance from Blake Rossdeutcher, who was sixth in the all-around with a 43.60. Brandon Metcalf (rings), Matt Poczatek (rings) and Zack Davis (high bar) also had top 10 finishes for Conant.
Hersey, which was coming off of 5th place finish at Friday's Leyden Invitational jumped nearly four points to finish fourth on Saturday with a 125.35.
Hersey was competing without Alex Baratta who is injured and Matt Korff, who is not at full strength because of an injury as well.
Still, The Huskies got good performances from David Jackowski and Jordan Graff. Jackowski delivered a 3rd place finish on the vault with a 9.10, 5th place finish on the floor and a 6th on the rings with a 7.50. Graff was 5th on the vault with an 8.90
"This is one of our best overall meets of the season," Hersey coach Mason Vernon said. "The guys are coming along and it will help even more when we get a couple people back."
Schaumburg moved up nearly 3 points from its meet on Wednesday, to finish ninth on Saturday with a 112.775.
The Saxons were led by Elliott Lam, who was seventh in the all-around with a 40.25, third in the pommel horse with a 7.80 and seventh in the vault with an 8.85. Mat Sigler and Tyler Wilkerson were also key contributors for the Saxons.
"We hit a couple extra routines today," Schaumburg coach Erik Bostrom said. "And we had less falls and some cleaner sets. This is a young and inexperienced team and that is what we need if we want to keep on improving."
Elk Grove was competing for the third night in row. And the tired squad led by Nemi Shah, Adam Kandafer and Yasu Omura showed its determination by nearly matching Friday's team score with a 92.80 to finish 13th.
"The kids are little tired," Elk Grove coach Ben Anderson said. "But it is a young team and they have been working hard to continue to go up. So every day we are looking for one small thing, whether it is straightening an arm or finding a trick that they didn't hit the day before.
Maine West, which will have a full team next season, put together a team scored of 15.90 while competing in just the pommel horse and vault. John-Paul Hernandez, Luke Hudson and Nathan Spero led the way for the Warriors.