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Article updated: 5/11/2013 10:22 PM

Fremd's Patton shares winning ride on pommel horse

By Dick Quagliano

Fremd's C.J. Patton doesn't mind sharing.

Patton along with Hinsdale Central's Brian Thompson and Wheaton co-op's David McDonald each scored a 9.55 to finish tied for first on the pommel horse in the boys gymnastics state finals Saturday night at Lincoln-Way East in Frankfort.

"First is first," said Patton, who was second in the state last year. "That was the goal, and I got it."

Patton, who scored a 9.70 earlier in the day during the preliminaries, had to compete first after a blind draw. He never hit the horse, as he did earlier in the day when he bruised his right leg. And when he completed his routine, he raised his arms in triumph.

"I actually thought this routine tonight was a little better," Patton said. "You can't see because I have my pants on, but I have bruise on my leg. I actually cleared it on my Magyer this time."

Fremd coach Tim Hamman was also happy that his athlete had a first-place medal.

"He is still a state champ," Hamman said. "And that was his goal throughout the year."

Patton did get an award that he will have all to himself, as he was named senior gymnast of the year.

"I was not expecting that at all," Patton said. "It is the biggest trophy I have ever won in my life. I was looking at the names on it like (former U.S. Olympian) Bart Connor and (former Fremd gymnast) Dave Mohr, and I am in unbelievable company."

Hersey gymnast Matt Swanson came almost out of nowhere to claim a share of second place in the vault with a 9.30. He becomes the first Hersey gymnast in 10 years to win a medal at the state meet.

Swanson was sixth on the vault at the MSL meet two weeks ago. But the junior has honed his vault in the past two weeks.

"I have been practicing hard," said Swanson of his handspring-front vault. "I have just been working very hard on it the past two weeks.

"I am very shocked. I couldn't be happier."

Huskie coach Mason Vernon was also a bit shocked, in the best kind of way.

"He was our third-best guy on the vault when the season began," Mason said. "But not anymore -- he is second in the state."

Vernon has seen the vast improvement in Swanson's form the past two weeks.

"The last couple weeks his vaults have been so consistent," Vernon said. "He has been locking in his timing and his landings. He has really come around."

Conant's Joey Mauk came up a bit short in both the rings and parallel bars. Mauk scored a 9.30 on the rings to finish behind McDonald's 9.45. Then on the parallel bars, Mauk nailed his routine to score a 9.70, but again was behind McDonald, who scored a 9.75.

"I am a bit disappointed," said Mauk, who was also sixth on the floor. "I thought I did well on my p-bars. But I do still have the state record."

Mauk was also named the recipient of the John Brinkworth scholarship, which goes to a senior gymnast.

Buffalo Grove's David Kavalerchik was happy with his eighth-place finish on the parallel bars.

"I was excited to finally be in the finals," said Kavalerchik, who scored a 9.05. "That was my goal. I was hoping to make more events, but p-bars is fine. It is really the most fun."

Buffalo Grove coach Zach Crandall, who is in his first year leading the Bison, was named coach of the year by the Illinois boys gymnastics coach's association.

Mundelein's Colin McCarthy began the meet with disappointment. But the junior rallied later in the meet to claim some hardware.

McCarthy, who was one of the favorites on the floor, stumbled a bit to finish tied for seventh with a 9.45. He also finished seventh on pommel horse and eighth on rings.

In the final rotation, McCarthy got a bit of personal redemption, scoring a 9.60 to finish third on the parallel bars, and a 9.15 to finish fifth on the high bar.

"I made it back on p-bar and high bar," McCarthy said. "All that bottled-up rage from not making it on floor I guess. It was a good finish though."

McCarthy's teammate, Cameron Mueller picked up a pair of 2nd place finishes. Mueller, who is also a junior tied for second on the rings with a 9.30 and tied for second on the vault also with a 9.30.

"It was not even in my mind-set that I could finish second," Mueller said. "I is almost like Christmas Day. I am so excited."

Stevenson's Arie Feltman-Frank came up with a third place finish on the high bar with a 9.20. He also finished sixth on pommel horse with an 8.80.

"It is all good," Feltman-Frank said. "I hit my pommel horse routine and just missed a medal. But I was able to come back strong on the high bar. It was my best routine of the year."

His teammates also did well, with Christian Courtney finishing seventh on the pommel horse with an 8.75 and Kyle Weichselbaum 10th on parallel bars with an 8.45.

"I am really proud of our guys," Stevenson coach Eric Liva said. "To perform like they did today with all that pressure is amazing."

Dundee-Crown's Satchel Hudson tied for 6th on the vault with a 9.10.

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