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updated: 5/8/2014 10:56 PM

Stevenson steps up, grabs sectional triumph

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By John Bumbales
Daily Herald Correspondent

It may not have gone exactly as scripted, but it was a still a pretty good meet for Stevenson on Thursday night as the Patriots hosted their own IHSA boys gymnastics sectional.

Stevenson earned the second of five automatic berths to the Elite Eight meet next Friday at Hinsdale Central as the Patriots rolled to the championship of the nine-team sectional with 153.6 points.

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Deerfield was a distant second with 142.45 points while Buffalo Grove edged Highland Park 138.9 to 138.4 for third place. Prospect placed seventh with 129 points to nip Hersey (127.95) in eighth.

Despite quite a few misses across the board, Stevenson's depth showed through with senior all-arounder Zack Gilbert winning the overall crown with 52.65 points (8.78 average).

The Patriots also got a third-place finish from senior all-arounder Jacob Guth with an 8.17 average (49.0 points). All top five finishers in each of the six events qualified for the individual state meet next Saturday. At-large cut-off scores for the all-around (next Friday) and individual events will be announced following the final sectional Saturday night at Glenbard West.

"I think we could have done better and we all had some misses here and there that hurt our score," said Guth. "We're definitely going to put in the work this week and we're going to make sure we have everything solid and set for state."

The Pats will really have their work cut out next weekend if they hope to challenge top-ranked Wheaton co-op, which scored 158.1 points in the first of the sectionals Wednesday night.

"We had one or two misses on every event tonight and that is the first time that happened all year," said Stevenson coach Eric Liva, whose team placed third in the state last year. "All I can say is I'm glad it was tonight, and not next Friday."

Gilbert's meet featured first-place scores of 9.1 on pommel horse, 9.1 on vault, and 8.95 on still rings.

Competing in four events, Stevenson junior Arie Feltman-Frank took home first place on high bar with an 8.75 while posting a second-place 8.65 on still rings. Gilbert added runner-up marks of 9.3 on floor exercise and 8.85 on parallel bars. Stevenson freshman Matt Krames tied for second on vault with an 8.95 while Guth took third on parallel bars with an 8.6.

"We have a week to try to fix everything and I think we can go 155 if we have a good meet," added Liva, whose team scored 26.8 points on vault. "But there is a lot of pressure in this (sectional) meet, they're trying to qualify for state, and they made some simple mistakes."

Buffalo Grove was led by junior Tyler Cho, who placed seventh in the all-around with 45.6 points. Prospect's Mark Larock (44.05 points) placed ninth overall.

"Floor exercise was the best we did all year and we had a sophomore (Josh Opperman) competing on floor for the first time on varsity and he did great," said Buffalo Grove coach Zack Crandall, whose team reached the state meet in 2013. "We had three guys fall on pommel horse and that was frustrating because that was a consistent event for us this season."

Buffalo Grove senior Jake Siebert qualified for state with a fourth-place tie (8.15) on still rings while junior teammate Sasha Varvaruk earned a trip to state for the Bison with a fifth-place tie (8.65) on floor.

Cho will be heading to state on vault with a fourth-place 8.9 and parallel bars with a fifth-place tie (8.3). Cho could also make the at-large cut in the all-around, floor, and pommel horse while teammate Matt Scislowski (8.0) has a good chance to make the cut on pommel horse.

Hersey's Eric Williams (8.05) has a shot at state on rings while teammate Matt Phelps (8.75) is on the bubble on vault. Stevenson junior Elijah Klaber may qualify on still rings (7.85) while Krames (7.15) could advance on high bar.

"We're really young this year, but this is a good learning experience for them and we'll get there eventually," said Hersey coach Mason Vernon. "Vault was really good for us, but we just had a lot of small, mental mistakes everywhere else."

Prospect really missed the services of freshman all-arounder Max Andryushchenko, who is competing at the USAG nationals in Long Beach, Calif., this week along with Mundelein standout Colin McCarthy.

"Some of our younger guys that kind of got thrown into the mix stepped up," said Prospect coach Randy Smith. "So it's nice to know for the future that we'll be getting better."

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