There really was only one question looming before Wednesday's Wheaton Warrenville South sectional: "Would David MacDonald be back?"
The standout senior, who was injured in the same gym during the Donaldson Invite on April 19, looked like his old self as the two-time defending state champions rolled to a convincing victory, easily defeating runner-up Naperville Central, 158.1 to 141.8.
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"I'm just glad I made it through today, to be honest with you," MacDonald said. "I thought we had a great meet as a team."
MacDonald had recently gotten medical clearance to return to the gym after sustaining a mild concussion and requiring stitches. He participated in light conditioning practices Friday and Saturday but wasn't able to work on his routines until Monday and Tuesday.
"Having David back was awesome," Wheaton co-op coach Greg Gebhardt said. "For what he did after a few days of practice after being cleared from a mild concussion is pretty heroic."
What he did was win the all-around title with a 54.75. He also won every event except for high bar, including earning a high score of 9.55 on parallel bars. He averaged a 9.125 on all six events.
Fellow senior Ethan Sansone, who will make his fourth state appearance and already has been a part of two state champion teams and a runner-up, took second in the all-around with a 52.65 and qualified for state in five events, including high bar, which he won with an 8.75.
"We almost had the 160 mark, so that's something we always strive to get," Sansone said. "We tried to hit routines as good as we could, it doesn't always work out, but we came out and fought."
Ben Szot contributed to Wheaton's team score on five events, while Connor Ritchie did so on still rings and Austin Peabody on high bar. Ben Marston qualified for state on parallel bars as did Lucas Cooperman on floor, despite having the team's fourth-best score in the aforementioned events.
The Redhawks will have to sit and wait and see if their 141.8 is good enough to secure an at-large team qualifier for state.
"You don't know and don't want to wish ill on anybody else, but I'm sure some other teams out there will have some bad events like we had," Redhawks coach Glen Reimers said. "Parallel bars and high bar. We had a shot, but there's 3½ points and a 145 right there."
Naperville Central sophomore Ryan Durkin took third in the all-around with a 50.45 and qualified in every individual event save for vault. Senior Dom Delgrosso snagged the fifth and final all-around qualifier with a 47.45 and also advanced on vault and pommel horse.
"We had higher expectations as a team because we've gone 147 earlier in the year and knew that score would propel us to state," Delgrosso said. "A 141 isn't terrible but wasn't the score we were looking for, but we got some good individual performances and Durkin and I get another chance to do all the events again."
Naperville North took third with a 134.8. Brandon Louise took second on vault with a 9.05, Liam Strejcek tied for fifth on parallel bars with a 7.9 and Miko Matz was third on high bar with a 7.4.
All three qualified for state for the first time. Tommy Hodges (parallel bars) and Yudai Okabe (still rings) could advance via at-large bids for the Huskies as well.
"That's about as much as I can ask for," Huskies coach Brad Foerch said. "If we can get all five guys there that would be great."
Matz threw a new skill into his routine.
"Getting over it was a 50/50 shot for me," Matz said. "I started working on it two days ago. I'm glad I got it."
Foerch didn't want Matz to add the trick.
"I told him, 'If you miss it, you'll fly over the bar,'" Foerch said. "He's just got guts."