Mundelein, Buffalo Grove embrace the spotlight
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The Mundelein boys gymnastics team did not want to miss out on being a part of history Saturday afternoon at their own nine-team sectional meet.
The Mustangs put together an outstanding all-around team performance with a season-high 152.75 points to become the 20th team in school history to earn a berth to the Elite Eight meet next Friday at Lincoln-Way East.
Runner-up Buffalo Grove also did not mind the bright lights of the sectional meet as the Bison really shined with a second-place score of 150.7 to qualify for the Elite Eight meet for the first time since 1980.
Buffalo Grove is the top-scoring team of the three at-large teams which qualified for the state meet.
Palatine nipped crosstown rival Fremd 135.25 to 135.0 for third place while Deerfield (133.6) was a close fifth.
Mundelein held a 128.9 to 127.25 advantage over Buffalo Grove heading into the final event and the Mustangs hit a solid 23.85 on pommel horse to easily clinch the sectional crown.
"Brandon Swanson was the gymnast of the meet for us and I've never seen a freshman step up so well in a big meet like this," said Mundelein coach Jesse Piland, whose team scored a meet-high 27.65 points on vault. "Colin (McCarthy) had a solid meet and Cameron (Mueller) had a great meet. We knew what we were capable of doing, and we went out and did it."
The top three all-arounders and the top five individuals in each event earned an automatic berth to the state meet next weekend.
McCarthy soared to first place in the all-around with 54.65 points to outdistance Buffalo Grove's David Kavalerchik (53.55) in second and Fremd's C.J. Patton (51.2) in third.
"I was happy with my performance, I loved to energy we had at the beginning of the meet, and we kept it going the whole meet," said McCarthy, who placed 10th in the state as a sophomore. "Hopefully I'll make the top three (at state) and the same applies for the team. We want a top-three placing and we just have to hit our tricks."
Mueller placed fourth overall with 50.15 points while Dundee-Crown freshman Satchel Hudson (47.4) placed fifth overall. Palatine's Lucas Price (45.45) was sixth overall followed by Fremd's Doug Leatherman (42.75) in ninth, and Rolling Meadows' Matt Crigler (42.25) in 10th.
Besides Kavalerchik, Tyler Cho was a huge contributor for Buffalo Grove Saturday as he tied for second with Mundelein's Jacob Petri (9.2) on vault, tied for fourth with Mueller (8.8) on parallel bars, and placed fourth on floor exercise with a 9.05.
Buffalo Grove coach Zach Crandall was really happy with the Bison's performance as they will head to state for the fourth time in school history.
"It wasn't our best meet of the year, but the guys have been working really hard all year to achieve this goal and we did that today," said Crandall, whose team closed out the meet with a 23.45 on high bar. "The way that they finished was very impressive and we went up and had our best parallel bars performance of the season with the pressure on."
Patton has had a great career at Fremd with a second-place medal on pommel horse last season as a junior. Now, he hopes he can bring home the individual state championship on that event after taking first place Saturday with a 9.45.
"My goal is to win pommel horse, I just have to focus on not thinking about it and do what I have to do," said Patton, who also placed third on high bar Saturday with an 8.2. "It comes down to a knee bend here and pointed toes there, so you really have to be precise."
Palatine senior Pratik Patel earned an automatic trip to state with a fourth-place 8.35 on pommel horse.
"Our goal was to get three or four guys to state and it's a safe bet that three guys will make it," said Palatine coach Scott Hagel. "We had three guys score above 8.0 on parallel bars so it was one of our strongest parallel bars performances of the year."
Hudson placed fourth on vault (9.15) and fourth on still rings (8.15) to become the first Dundee-Crown gymnast to reach state since standout Roger Pasek compiled 16 medals from 2004-2007.
"He (Hudson) likes doing gymnastics in the IHSA and it's nice doing it for your high school," said D-C coach Steve Merena, whose son Steve is a junior all-arounder at Elgin High School. "He just wants to participate and see what happens at state."
Buffalo Grove's Chris Jacob placed fifth on pommel horse (8.3) and fifth on high bar (7.35) while Crigler reached state with a fourth-place 7.9 on high bar. Grant senior Connor Dierks qualified for state with a fifth-place 7.8 on still rings.
Kavalerchik was the high bar champ with a 9.15 while McCarthy won floor (9.7), vault (9.35), rings (9.3), and parallel bars (9.3).
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