With four of the top boys gymnastics teams in the state competing, the Bob Bohl Invitational saw some high scoring Friday night at Mundelein.
And with a strong performance from start to finish, the host Mustangs held off Wheaton co-op 158.625 to 157.125 as both squads scored season-high totals in the powerful 19-team field.
Due to spring break, top-ranked Deerfield was without three key gymnasts and the Warriors were well out of contention for a top-four plaque.
But No. 3-ranked Schaumburg put together an outstanding third-place finish with 155.4 points to easily topple fourth-place finisher Niles West (151.05).
Sixth-place Libertyville (148.475 points) was yet another team to put together a season-high score while 10th-place Rolling Meadows (136.525) edged Mid-Suburban League rivals Buffalo Grove (134.5) in 11th, and Hoffman Estates (133.95) in 12th.
After all-around champion Kevin Connors (55.825) of Highland Park, Wheaton co-op freshman Nicky Franz was a close second with 55.8 points.
Mundelein was led by third-place all-arounder Kurt Lawrence (54 points) followed by Schaumburg freshman Oscar Kulesza (53.75) in fourth and Mundelein senior Tyler Collins (53.375) in fifth. Glenbard East's Marc Le (52.1) placed eighth overall. Mundelein junior Will Ferro (51.15) finished 10th in the all-around. He's proved to be a huge cog in the Mundelein lineup as the Mustangs recently found out that they will be hosting the first of five sectionals when the state series rolls around.
"Tonight we got the big scores where we needed, and it worked out for the best," said Ferro, who qualified for state on pommel horse and high bar last year. "I think that we are all starting to clean up our routines and get the polish on them that we need to compete with the top teams in the state."
Mundelein coach Jesse Piland is also very optimistic after the Mustangs' superb performance.
"This was by far our best team effort," Piland said. "Everybody pitched in, and we needed everybody to do their best to compete with some of the high level teams in the gym.
"We had our eye on Schaumburg but I really didn't want to put pressure on the guys and I think they felt really good at home."
Wheaton co-op's team score was bolstered by Cade Houlihan (50.975), who placed 11th in the all-around.
"It was our season-high and I thought our boys competed very well," said Wheaton co-op coach Greg Gebhardt. "All three all-rounders did their job. They performed well and a 55.8 was a personal record for our freshman Nicky Franz."
Like Mundelein, Schaumburg also earned the right to host a sectional in May. The Saxons look like a lock to return to the Elite Eight this spring.
"The guys did a really nice job and I'm very happy with where we are at this point of the season," said Schaumburg coach Erik Bostrom. "Brandon (Nyborg) was in five events (no vault, due to an injury) and Oscar had a really good meet on high bar and still rings. I'm hoping to make it back (to state), and we'll be vying for one of those top spots."
Libertyville's team effort was led by all-arounders Max Faber (15th) and teammate Matt Neuberger (19th).
"Besides vault, every event was our highest score of the season, and we were only a half a point lower on vault," said Libertyville coach Josh Cimo. "This is 4 points higher than we've been scoring all year, and Robert Cartwright only did pommel horse tonight because he hurt his knee."
Junior Ben Kowalski led Rolling Meadows in 16th overall while Hoffman Estates' Alex Collier placed 18th.
"So far this season, it was our best meet tonight," said Rolling Meadows coach Mike Costa. "I honestly think we can score 140 if we put it all together and we still have a lot of work to do in the gym."
After losing numerous gymnasts from its 2017 Elite Eight team to graduation, Buffalo Grove has still remained pretty competitive this season.
"We're missing six out of our 18 scores tonight due to injury," said Buffalo Grove coach Zack Crandall. "So if we had a full team we would probably be over 140. Considering the guys we had it was a good meet, and we can definitely chalk it up as a successful meet tonight."
Collins won floor (9.4) and vault (9.45) while Franz won pommel horse (9.35) and parallel bars (9.6). Kowalski (9.35) placed second on floor while Nyborg (9.35) was the runner-up on still rings. Franz (9.3) was also second on high bar.
"Overall, they were good on every event except for parallel bars and floor exercise," said Hoffman Estates coach Ryan Brown. "But every other event they improved tremendously from what they were doing before spring break."