While playing the violin and competing in gymnastics seem so distant to most, for Conant's Brandon Metcalf they both seem so natural.
Metcalf demonstrated that Thursday at the Conant triangular meet in Hoffman Estates.
First Metcalf played an inspired version of the national anthem before the competition began. The senior then spun into form on still rings, winning the event with an 8.00.
Metcalf's performances help propel the Cougars to a 143.20. Conant was able to best area power Buffalo Grove, which scored a 139.30, and Palatine, which finished with a 130.40.
Metcalf came out for gymnastics as a freshman as way to take a break from the violin, which he began playing at the age of 4. He misses practices at times for his own lessons and performances.
"Violin is definitely a bigger part of my life," said Metcalf, who had a special performance two years ago when he played at the wedding of head coach Mike Opsal. "Gymnastics gives me a break and it helps me to stay in shape. And I love being with my teammates."
Metcalf has scholarship offers for his violin play from Illinois and New York University and is awaiting word from the prestigious Julliard school in New York.
"I have to be careful so I don't injure myself," said Metcalf, who also competes in the high bar and parallel bars.
"He does a great job for us," Opsal said. "I would like for him to do even more, but we want to be careful about his special gift."
Meanwhile, Metcalf is helping his teammates not only becoming the top team in the MSL, but a top team in the state. Brian Reedy, who was second in the all-around (48.30) on Thursday, says his team can't wait to compete at home so they can hear Metcalf play.
"He has been doing that for a couple years for us now" Reedy said. "It is a unique way to start a meet. It is great to hear and it gets us fired up."
Besides Reedy, Metcalf also got strong support from teammates Joey Mauk, who won the floor with a 9.40, the vault with a 9.50 and the parallel bars with a 9.30. Joshua Hoppe also had string performance on the floor (9.10) while Blake Rossdeutcher was big on the pommel horse (7.60) and fifth in the all-around (39.30).
"It was not one of our best meets," Opsal said. "But we still managed to break that 140 mark. We need our fourth and fifth gymnasts in each event to step it up a little more. We are counting too much on Mauk and Reedy right now."
Buffalo Grove continued to have David Kavalerchik leading the way. Kavalerchik was first in the all-around with a 50.30 and had high honors on the high bar with an 8.60.
"I really liked my pommel horse today," Kavalerchik. "And we are doing very well as team."
The Bison were coming fresh off a strong performance Wednesday night against Hersey, when Buffalo Grove set a school record with a 147.00. Coach Zach Crandall said fatigue and the excitement from Wednesday might have caught up with the Bison.
"We were a bit tired out there," Crandall said. "We got off to a great start on the pommel horse and finished with our best vaults of the year. It was the middle that struggled for us."
Chris Jacob, who was second on the pommel horse (8.30), Jake Siebert, who was fourth on the vault (8.90), Kirtan Patel, who was fourth on the rings (6.50) and Tyler Cho, who was fifth on the vault (8.70) were also key contributors.
Palatine was looking to lift itself up after learning all-arounder Jonah Hinz is no longer with the team. The Pirates responded with their best score of the season, a 130.30.
"By far, this is our best meet of the year," Palatine coach Scott Hagel said. "This is exactly what we were looking for. We did the things that we have been working on in practice."
Lucas Price won the pommel horse with a career-best 8.70 and was third in the all-around with a 46.10.
"It the same routine I have always done," Price said. "I just finally figured out how to straighten my knees a little more."
Austin Hoening was tied for second on the vault with a 9.00 and was fifth in the parallel bars with a 7.20 while Pratik Patel was fourth on the pommel horse (8.10).