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updated: 5/17/2014 10:43 PM

Fitting finish for Elgin's Merena

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  • Elgin's Nolan Williamson performs his high bar routine during the boys gymnastics state finals Saturday at Hinsdale Central.

       Elgin's Nolan Williamson performs his high bar routine during the boys gymnastics state finals Saturday at Hinsdale Central.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • Elgin's Steve Merena performs his high bars routine during the boys gymnastics state finals Saturday at Hinsdale Central. The senior finished sixth with a score of 8.6.

       Elgin's Steve Merena performs his high bars routine during the boys gymnastics state finals Saturday at Hinsdale Central. The senior finished sixth with a score of 8.6.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

By John Bumbales
Daily Herald Correspondent

Elgin senior Steve Merena closed out his boys gymnastics career on a high note as he reached the state finals on parallel bars, high bar, vault, and pommel horse on Saturday night at Hinsdale Central.

Merena tied for second on parallel bars with an outstanding 9.25 routine while placing sixth on high bar with an 8.6. He added a ninth-place 8.3 on pommel horse and a 12th-place 8.55 on vault.

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The Maroons also had a pleasant surprise as freshman Nolan Williamson reached the finals on high bar, placing ninth with an 8.2.

"I feel I finished up my last year of gymnastics well and I did what I wanted to do on parallel bars and high bar," Merena said. "Nolan did good on high bar tonight for his first year, and he's matured in the gym a lot."

Elgin coach Steve Merena could not have been happier with his son Steve or Williamson following the pressure-packed meet.

"It was a good weekend; we're very happy because (Steve) is not a vaulter and he made finals on vault," said coach Merena. "We just wanted to see a good parallel bars routine and I'm very happy with Nolan making finals. It was a great experience for him being a freshman and he's ahead of the curve now with state meet experience."

Wheaton co-op standout David MacDonald was the meet's dominant peformer. He tied for first on vault (9.75), while taking home first-place on floor (9.5), parallel bars (9.45), and still rings (9.2).

Hersey sophomore Matt Phelps placed eighth on vault with a 9.0 while Schaumburg senior Mat Sigler placed 10th on floor exercise with an 8.05.

"It was unfortunate that he (Sigler) had a couple of bobbles in the finals, but in spite of that he should still be happy with the way he finished considering the competition he's with," said Schaumburg coach Erik Bostrom. "He did his best set on floor in the prelims that he has done all season and that allowed him to get to the finals."

After bringing home the second-place trophy from the Elite Eight meet the previous day, Stevenson put the finishing touches on a great weekend.

With a great preliminary round on Saturday afternoon, Stevenson was able to get four gymnasts into the individual state finals, including three top-five medal winners.

The Patriots had to wait until the final routine of the competition, but it was well worth it as junior Arie Feltman-Frank placed third on high bar with an 8.7.

Stevenson senior Jacob Guth won the fourth-place medal on high bar with an 8.65 while senior teammate Zack Gilbert captured the fifth-place medal on pommel horse with an 8.75.

Gilbert helped carry the Pats to their second-place team finish on Friday with a fourth-place finish in the all-around competition while Guth was 14th overall.

"I hit my (high bar) set and it feels good to get a third-place medal," said Feltman-Frank. "The team did great to get a second-place trophy and we've been working for this all year."

Besides pommel horse, Gilbert also placed sixth on parallel bars (8.95), seventh on vault (9.05), and eighth on high bar (8.3). Stevenson junior Elijah Klaber placed sixth on pommel horse with an 8.6.

"I'm excited for the kids -- this was their chance to shine as individuals, and Friday was five guys joining forces to try to win a trophy," said Stevenson coach Eric Liva, whose team edged Lyons by .05 points for the second-place trophy. "It's been a great weekend for us with a second-place trophy and four guys making the finals."

Mundelein senior Cameron Mueller missed reaching the state finals by one place on vault, but he did close out his career with a ninth-place 8.75 on still rings.

"He didn't do his (still rings) routine as cleanly as I've seen him do it in the past, but it was still a good finish to make it to the finals again this year," said Mundelein coach Jesse Piland. "It's been a strange year for us, first losing Colin (McCarthy) because the IHSA said he couldn't compete. But this core group of guys kept fighting and they almost made it to state as a team."

McCarthy was ineligible to compete in the IHSA sectionals this season because he competed in the USAG national meet in California which was against the new rules. McCarthy did make it to the finals on parallel bars in the national meet.

Libertyville senior Alex Pong had quite a weekend as he placed fifth in the state all-around on Friday when the Wildcats placed sixth in the Elite Eight competition.

Then on Saturday, Pong qualified for the state finals on floor exercise, still rings, vault, and high bar.

But due to a nagging back injury from earlier in the day, Pong only competed in the finals on floor where he placed ninth with an 8.95, and still rings, where he placed 10th with a 7.2. Pong was held out of the vault and high bar competition due to the injury.

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