Boys gymnastics: Scouting Lake County

 
By John Bumbales
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 3/18/2016 9:09 PM
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  • Matt Krames of Stevenson performs his horizontal bar routine during last year's state finals at Hinsdale Central.

      Matt Krames of Stevenson performs his horizontal bar routine during last year's state finals at Hinsdale Central. Daniel White | Staff Photographer

INDEPENDENT CONFERENCE

LIBERTYVILLE

Coach: Josh Cimo (fifth season)

Last season: second in Independent Conference

Top graduated seniors: Mark Pickar, Ryan Flores

Top returning competitors: seniors Jade Fisher (four events), Alec Ovassiapian (five events); juniors Andrew Jacob (all-around), Jacob Reichert (three events), Erik Meyer (four events); sophomore Pat Tanski (all-around)

Key newcomers: freshmen Donny Ryan, Tyler Kukla

Outlook: With former state qualifier and key senior all-rounder Adrian Metcalf not competing for Libertyville this spring, the Wildcats will need a variety of other gymnasts to step up and perform as much more of a group effort in hopes of reaching their full potential. Coach Josh Cimo helped guide Libertyville to the 2014 state meet with much more talent and depth to fall back on that season, as the Wildcats took sixth place in the state. But in spite of not having the full lineup he had hoped for heading into the 2016 campaign, Cimo is confident that his squad can put together some solid team scores by the time the sectional competition rolls around in early May. "I'm pretty optimistic they can improve a lot, and we have already increased our team score by three points on pommel horse," said Cimo, who believes his team can reach the 133 to 135-point range by the end of the season. "The key will really just be teamwork and utilizing all three scores. We have a lot of guys working on at least four events so we can pick and choose who we want to fill out our lineup in the different events." The Wildcats' first big test of the new campaign will come this weekend at the always powerful Hinsdale Central Invitational, where they will face some of the top teams in the state head-to-head. Libertyville lost its season-opening dual meet to Naperville Central last weekend at home, but Cimo was still happy with how his team performed in their first meet as compared to recent season-openers. "In years past after this meet their performance did not match their ability, but today their performance matched their ability," said Cimo following the annual Naperville Central meet. "(Sophomore Pat Tanski) is really stepping it up a lot this year. His best event is probably vault. (Senior Alec Ovassiapian) is very consistent with his scores, he's very reliable as a third scorer, and we know what we're going to get."

MUNDELEIN

Coach: Jesse Piland (eighth season)

Last season: third in Independent Conference

Top graduated seniors: none

Top returning competitors: seniors Brandon Swanson (ninth in state all-around, fourth on vault, tied for 10th on high bar), Noe Alcantar (three events, state qualifier on parallel bars), Andrew Lock (three events), Ismael Antunez (three events), Jordan Ader (four events); juniors Greg Godellas (26th in state all-around, 10th on pommel horse), Yanni Wiechering (all-around); sophomore Carson Bernett (all-around)

Key newcomers: sophomore Tyler Collins (all-around)

Outlook: With senior all-rounder Brandon Swanson ready to lead them, the Mustangs should be in a position to make a return trip to the Elite Eight state meet for the 21st time in school history. Despite not having any seniors on its inexperienced squad last spring, Mundelein almost reached the state meet. The Mustangs were just edged out in sectional competition. "We were the first team out last year and we got beat by a tenth of a point by Schaumburg," said coach Jesse Piland, whose team has already scored over 139 points in early-season competition. "Right now, I would like to set my sights on the state meet and I think that would be a good goal for these guys." On paper, it looks like Mundelein will definitely be a good bet of reaching that goal of the state meet as Swanson, Greg Godellas, Yanni Wiechering, Carson Bernett and newcomer Tyler Collins give the Mustangs an abundance of talent and depth to fall back on from an all-rounder standpoint. Add to that, Noe Alcantar, who reached the state meet on parallel bars as a junior, and Mundelein should be in good shape when the state series rolls around. "(Swanson) is ready to go," Piland said. "He trained hard in the off-season, he is in shape, and he's going to go for it. Greg (Godellas) is one year tougher, smarter, and more experienced, and he's really gifted on pommel horse. We're just going to try to stay healthy and improve in every meet."

STEVENSON

Coach: Joe Rogalski (first season)

Last season: first in state, sectional champions, first in Independent Conference

Top graduated seniors: Arie Feltman-Frank (fifth in state all-around, second on high bar, eighth on parallel bars), Elijah Klaber (12th in state all-around, tied for sixth on parallel bars)

Top returning competitors: junior Matt Krames (sixth in state all-around, tied for ninth on parallel bars, tied for 10th on high bar)

Outlook: After winning their fifth IHSA state championship in school history with basically only three gymnasts doing all of the scoring last year, the Patriots will be facing a much more difficult challenge as the 2016 season gets underway. Not only did Stevenson lose the services of stellar coach Eric Liva, who was replaced by Joe Rogalski, but the Patriots will also be without two key graduated gymnasts from their 2015 state-title team. On the bright side, Rogalski said that the program's numbers at the lower levels are up significantly this spring with about 30 gymnasts on the squad. Rogalski also has the luxury of a great team leader in junior Matt Krames back to guide the young squad through what might be many peaks and valley's this spring. "We actually have no seniors this year, and we're looking to train up some of our freshmen and sophomores for the next few years," said Rogalski, who is also an assistant girls gymnastics coach at Stevenson. "(Krames) wants to take hopefully top five in the state this year, and I'm really looking at this year as a rebuilding year and then next year have a pretty solid team." Stevenson's relatively young program has had much success at the state meet over the years with nine top-three trophies dating back to 1999. "We already have a team that is twice as large as previous years, with one or two new guys still coming out every day," Rogalski said. "We'll see who can step up and fill the void with some of our freshmen and sophomores." Liva is now an assistant coach at Lyons Township after a very long and successful career as a head coach at Hinsdale South, Mundelein and Stevenson.

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