Boys gymnastics: Ferlita, Fremd win MSL championships

When he was in seventh grade, Joseph Ferlita went into the gymnastics gym at Fremd. The youthful Ferlita looked around, especially at the record board where his father Joe once held a spot in the top five rings scores.

Ferlita joined the Fremd team as a freshman and had been making an impact as a member of the varsity team. He qualified for a pair of state individual events last year as a junior and had high hopes for his senior season.

That was until last June when the IHSA pulled the plug on boys gymnastics, canceling their support for the sport.

Fortunately for Ferlita and his teammates at Fremd, District 211, which includes Palatine, Conant, Hoffman Estates and Schaumburg, kept the sport for the 2024 season. Those five schools kept another tradition alive Friday at Fremd when they met for the Mid Suburban League championship.

Ferlita and Fremd made the most on the new lease on life. Ferlita won the all-around title with a 44.85, just edging teammate Lukas Sciuckas, who scored a 44.70.

With that duo leading the way, Fremd won the MSL title, finishing with a 131.55. Conant was second with a 126.65 followed by Hoffman’s 116.55, Palatine’s 116.00 and Schaumburg’s 56.75.

Ferlita was excited not only with his win, but the Vikings taking the team title.

“When I first came into this gym as a seventh grader, I knew I was going to rock it, ” Ferlita said. “I wanted to exceed everyone’s expectations and I feel like I did a good job of doing that.”

Ferlita’s performance on the rings were the key to his all-around title. He scored a career-best 8.85 to win the event. It will also put him on the Fremd all time scoreboard for that event.

It also put the Ferlita name back on that board after his father’s name was taken down after his dad’s score was surpassed in recent years.

“I really pushed myself here and I think I did amazing,” Ferlita said. “It will be great to see my name up on the board here just like my dad’s.”

Fremd coach Jason Brandenburg, who was president of the Illinois Gymnastics Coaches Association last year, said it was great to be able to host the conference meet after the disappointment from the IHSA last year.

“I hope that everyone takes notice and realizes how important this is,” Brandenburg said. “That is why this needs to stay.”

Brandeenburg was pleased at how well his team performed before the very large crowd at the Fremd gym. Sciukas won the parallel bars with an 8.55 while Keishin Nakagawa was fourth in the all-around with a 41.65.

“We had a great crowd here tonight and I was happy that the boys were able to put on a show for them,” Brandenburg said. “We had a down event in the pommel horse. And the boys knew that. They got up and then did amazing on rings. Where else do you get that life lesson?”

Conant, which was second, got solid performances from Matt Goolish and Sanket Vyas. Goolish, who was fifth in the all-around with a 39.50, won the vault with an 8.80 and the floor with an 8.75. Vyas won the pommel horse with a 7.70.

Palatine’s Colin VanderGiessen, who was third in the all-around with a 43.50, won the high bar with a 6.70.

While the meet featured all five D211 schools, teams from Barrington along with all five D214 schools did not compete. Barrington, along with Hersey, which was second in the state last year, Prospect, Elk Grove, Buffalo Grove and Rolling Meadows did not have teams, because all six schools canceled their programs.

That didn’t stop former Prospect coach Julian Bassler and former Elk Grove coach Abisai Diaz from attending. Both coaches lamented that their programs were canceled.

“I am disappointed,” said Bassler, whose teams qualified for the state finals in 2021 and 2022.

“I am heartbroken. I feel that gymnastics offers opportunities for kids that would not normally go out for sports.”

Diaz, who said that he had 46 gymnasts ready to compete this year, said he hurts for his competitors.

“This is a day when I think about my athletes and a program that I worked so hard to build,” Diaz said. “Now there are many kids that don’t have an opportunity to be part of something they had worked so hard for.”

While Bassler and Diaz don’t have teams competing, the five D211 teams will compete in the state finals which will be sponsored by the IHSCA on May 11 at Hoffman Estates.

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.