Not even a chipped bone in his left ankle could stop Hersey's David Jackowski on Friday in the Mid-Suburban League boys gymnastics meet at Hoffman Estates.
Jackowski fell down the stairs in his stocking feet last Sunday and was on crutches Monday at school. The senior did not practice all week and decided at the last minute Friday to compete.
After a successful warmup and a promise to coach Mason Vernon that he was good to go, Jackowski then competed. And did it in style, winning the vault with a 9.45 and tying for second on the floor with a 9.50.
"It was an on-the-spot decision," said Jackowski, who competed in the all-around and finished seventh with a 44.50. "I warmed up well and told coach I was OK. I went out there and performed well, so it was good."
Vernon was ready to shut down Jackowski and hold him out until next Saturday, when the Huskies compete at the Mundelein sectional.
"He felt good today," Vernon said. "And I have to trust my athlete. The most inportant thing is that I didn't want to risk sectionals next week, but I believed him that he felt good."
With Jackowski leading the way, Hersey finished third in the meet with a 137.85. The Huskies also got key performances from Jordan Graff, who was third on the vault, Austin Kasper, who was eighth on the rings, Matt Swanson, who was sixth on the vault, Matt Korff, who was 10th on the vault and Alex Baratta, who was seventh on high bar.
"I couldn't be more excited with a third-place finish," Vernon said. "That was our goal tonight, especially since Conant and Buffalo Grove could be state qualifiers."
Conant captured the conference title for the first time in three years with a score of 154.60.
The Cougars were not at full strength with Blake Rossdeutcher competing in only three events after being sick all week; Brian Reedy was battling illness and Joey Mauk is nursing a sore hamstring. But specialists Brandon Metcalf, Josh Hoppe and Zach Davis helped the Cougars with some depth.
"Blake hit on some things and hat helped our score," Conant coach Mike Opsal said. "And our other guys picked us up where we needed them to. It is great to win conference. That was our first goal. Now it is to win our sectional next week and get to state."
"I am just a little under the weather," said Reedy, who was third in the all-around with a 51.70. "But I was still able to pull things together somehow."
Despite the sore hamstring, Mauk was able to claim the all-around title with a 54.90. The fact that the senior could only compete in two events at last year's conference meet made it even sweeter for him.
"It is really satisfying to be able to come back this year and win," said Mauk, who also won the floor with a 9.50 and the parallel bars with a 9.70. "I couldn't be happier."
Buffalo Grove's David Kavalerchik overcame a slow start and came back to win two events and finish second in the all-around with a 53.30.
"I hate starting on the pommel horse," said Kavalechik, who rallied to win the rings with a 9.00 and the high bar with a 9.10. "It is not a good place for me to begin. But once I got into the meet, I did well."
So did the rest of the Bison squad. Tyler Cho, Steve Pauley, Chris Jacob, Matt Scislowski, Kirtan Patel, Zac Halap along with Kavalerchik gave Buffalo Grove 15 top-10 finishes.
"It was a really good meet for us," Buffalo Grove coach Zack Crandall said. "Last week at Niles North it was as near to a perfect meet as we could have. Tonight wasn't as good, but overall I am happy with the guys."
Fremd's C.J. Patton personally redeemed himself. Patton, who fell last year on the pommel horse to finish second in the conference, stayed on his ride Friday to win the event with a 9.50.
"Last year I wasn't in my best shape mentally for it," said Patton, who was fourth in the all-around with a 51.40. "This year I was able to fight through the pressure and hit my routine."
Lucas Price finished fifth in the all-around with a 47.85 while Alex Hoening tied for second on the floor with a 9.40 to help two-time defending champion Palatine to a fourth-place finish with a 137.05.
"We were a little sloppy on some things tonight," Palatine coach Scott Hagel said. "But that's OK. We will go back tomorrow and look at the videotape and figure out what we need to clean up before state next week."