Addison Trail senior gymnast Aaron De La Cruz may have taken first place on parallel bars Thursday, but he found little to be pleased about his season-high 7.8.
"Well, nothing," De La Cruz said. "I'm planning on putting more things into my routine so that's not what I want. I want something bigger. I need to work on everything, but so far I'm satisfied."
De La Cruz and the Blazers still may have a ways to go, but they enjoyed a nice step forward. They improved their season-high score by nearly 15 points to defeat Leyden 108.80 to 102.50 in their West Suburban Gold dual opener in Addison.
The Blazers also received event victories from senior Matt Kijek, junior Alan Jankowski and sophomore Robert Infusino on their lone events. Junior all-around winner Marco Martinez had four top-three event finishes.
In its first meet with a regular scoring format March 15, Addison Trail scored 93.95. Only four of the 12 gymnasts in the Blazers' lineup Thursday were seniors.
It was shaky the first (regular) meet, but to go from that to a nice conference, home-meet victory where we went up almost 15 points, I really can't complain," Addison Trail coach Mike Galfi said. "Usually you pray for 16 points in the course of the season so they really did put it together."
Leyden (0-2 in Gold) is even younger with only one senior JV gymnast in the program and three juniors on varsity.
The Eagles received event victories from Tevaris Fletcher and George Anderson. They also scored a season high coming off their home invite March 15 but only by 0.4.
"We were hoping that the score was going to be a little tighter today," Leyden coach Jason Orna said. "Unfortunately, we have a very young team and a team that's learning how to be competitors."
De La Cruz missed the latter half of the 2012 season with a left shoulder injury that occurred during wrestling. He finally stopped around this time last year rather than risk needing surgery.
"Now it's way better so I'm looking to make something big this year," De La Cruz said.
"I kept asking him throughout (last) year, 'Do you want to still do gymnastics next year?' and he always said, 'Yeah. I really want to do it,' " Galfi said. "He's been a diamond on the rough to actually have him competing. He's really a good leader, too. He's got the work ethic, he's got the strength (to make state), and the nicest part is he's never satisfied."
Anderson, a sophomore, is among those taking on a bigger load for the Eagles. He's become an all-arounder this season with five of his scores counting toward Thursday's team total.
"My coach (Orna) gave me a talk that it's not about the meet and not about winning. It's all about just hitting your set and doing it right," Anderson said. "It made not think about their team and how good they did but just made think about myself and my performance."
In his first year of gymnastics last season, Anderson competed on everything but one event -- floor. That's the event he won Thursday by 0.1 over Fletcher and Martinez.
"I was just awful at (floor last year). I worked on it a lot over the summer," Anderson said.
"It helps when you hit requirements and you hit your press on floor. It goes a long way. He won floor because he had a press -- and he hit it," Orna said.