Max Andryushchenko was a latecomer to Prospect's gymnastics team. But that may be the last time that Andryushchenko will be last all year.
Competing in just his third meet of the year at the 11th annual Ed Raymond Invitational at Conant in Hoffman Estates on Thursday, Andryushchenko, was spectacular, scoring a 56.10.
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The 14-year old freshman joined the Prospect team right after spring break, which he spent in Brazil as a member of the United States Gymanstics Association's Junior Olympic team. Andryushchenko was an alternate on that team, which won the gold medal. He then returned to Mt. Prospect and joined the Knights.
"I knew all about him," Prospect coach Randy Smith said. "I also knew how important it was for him to compete on his club team. But when he decided to come out for us, I knew it would be a great for both of us."
Andryushchenko competed in a couple of meets for Prospect before Thursday, with watered-down routines. But he turned things up at Conant.
Andryushchenko won 5 of the 6 events, while setting a school record in the all-around. He won the rings with. 9.50, the pommel horse with a 9.30, and the parallel bars, high bar and floor with a score of 9.40 on each event. Andryushchenko missed a complete sweep by finishing second on the vault with a 9.10.
"It was a lot of fun out there," Andryushchenko said. "It is so different from my club meets. We do cheer for each other, but not like this."
Andryushchenko plans to stay with the team through the MSL meet in two weeks. He will then return to compete in the club nationals. Because of that, the new IHSA rules prohibits him from competing in the state series.
"It is a bit disappointing," Andryushchenko said. "I would love to help my teammates get to state. But I do plan to be back next year."
Smith is also disappointed, but is happy to have Andryushchenko as long as he can.
"He is a great kid," Smith said. "It is a bonus for us to have him. He makes everyone on the team so much better."
Buoyed by Andryushchenko, that team of Pat Backus, Mark "Ringo" LaRock, Andrew Rich, Theo Nelson, Andrew Pittman and Sam Park were able to finish second with a score of 145.20, which is less than 2 points off the school record.
"The longer Max stays, the better we will be," Smith said.
Glenbard West won the meet with a season-best score of 151.15.
The Hilltoppers were led by Max Diab, who was second in the all-around with a 52.45. Diab also broke Andryushchenko's string on individual event wins by taking the vault with a 9.30.
Diab also got help from Eric Samuta, Perry Zumbrook, Joey Mandarino, Dominick Sansone and Matthew Ideler.
Buffalo Grove got strong performances from Jake Siebert, Tyler Cho, Matt Scislowski and Sasha Varvaruk to come away with a third-place finish with a score of 137.85.
Varvaruk was fifth on the floor exercise with an 8.70, while Scislowski was sixth on the pommel horse with an 8.10. Siebert was fourth on vault with a 9.05 and seventh on rings with an 8.40, while Cho was third on parallel bars with an 8.90.
"Overall it was a good meet," Buffalo Grove coach Zach Crandall said. "High bar was a bit rough, but the guys are starting to put it together."
Conant finished fifth with a season-best 136.86. The Cougars got a strong performance from Blake Rossdeutcher, who was fourth in the all-around with 48.375.
"We had a couple guys do some things that they had not done all year," Conant coach Mike Opsal said. "Marcus Williams flipped a vault that boosted our scored a half-point and John Chang did well on the high bar."
Roman Cruz, Joe Bolbot, Kerwin Alvero and Zach Prill were also key contributors for Conant.
Libertyville was without Alex Pong and two other gymnasts who were sidelined with the flu. Despite that, the Wildcats were able to finish sixth with a score of 135.15.
"We just had other guys step it up today," Libertyville coach Josh Cimo said. "We were 5 for 6 on our events. We hit when when needed to hit today."
Adrian Metcalf was ninth in the all-around with a 43.20 and finished fifth on the high bar. Jack Burke was seventh on the floor and ninth on the vault, Mark Pickar was eighth on the pommel horse, Ben Reichert 15th on the parallel bars while Ryan Flores was 11th on the pommel horse.
Palatine saw a 3-point increase that helped the Pirates to an eighth-place finish and a score of 133.10.
Prakash Nigam led the Pirates with his third-place finish in the all-around with a score of 49.35. Nigam was fifth in rings, eighth in the high bars and ninth in the pommel horse and parallel bars.
"We will take that," Palatine coach Scott Hagel said. "We are working on sticking our landings. Overall, it was a good night."
Hoffman Estates turned things around in just one night. After scoring 127 points on Wednesday, the Hawks came back to score a 132.30 for a ninth-place finish.
"I met with the team this morning," Hoffman Estates coach Ryan Brown said. "They came out much stronger today."
Avery Johnson, who was eigth th in the all-around with a 44.35, Bartosz Widelak, who was 11th in the all-around with a 42.70, and Andres Cueva-Robles, who was 15th in the all-around, led the Hawks.
Matt Sigler was fourth on the vault with a 9.00 to help Schaumburg to a 10th-place finish with a 130.60.
Fremd brought just upperclassmen to the meet and scored a 128.31 to finish 11th. Ryan Roth, who was 12th in the all-around with a 41.85, led the Vikings.
"We have a very deep team," Fremd coach Tim Hamman said. "We wanted our sophomores to compete in a meet earlier this week."