Scouting DuPage County boys gymnastics
Top local teams: Downers Grove North, Downers Grove South, Glenbard West, Hinsdale Central, Wheaton co-op.
Top gymnasts: Luke Badger (Lake Park, sr., all-around), Brock Herion (Downers Grove South, sr., all-around), Beau Herion (Downers Grove South, fr., all-around) Matthew Ideler (Glenbard West, sr., all-around), Taj Jacobs (Naperville Central, sr., floor, vault), Brian Kay (Naperville North, sr., all-around), Alex Kominowski (Addison Trail, sr., all-around), Michael Kudelka (Downers Grove North, sr., all-around), Jacob Kurian (West Chicago, sr., all-around), Marc Le (Glenbard East, jr., all-around), Timmy Le (Glenbard West, sr., all-around), Ryan Leahy (Hinsdale Central, sr., all-around), Kwame Lipscomb (Hinsdale South, sr, all-around), Aiden Moran (Wheaton co-op, jr., all-around), Frankie Pham (Glenbard West, sr., still rings), Alex Roca (Hinsdale Central, jr., all-around), Austin Tate (Wheaton co-op, sr., all-around), Chris Wiper (Wheaton co-op, so., all-around), Zach Zeffiro (York, sr., vault, floor).
Addison Trail coach Mike Galfi said that senior Alex Kominowski believes he can be the state champion on floor this season. Since it's his final year, now's the time to do it, especially since he's competing on a team that's loaded with freshmen talent and will probably need a few years to boost the team score. "We look to be competitive in a couple of years," Galfi said. "We have a lot of freshmen talent on the team this year." One of those freshmen is Navell Burse, who is new to the sport but catching on quickly.
Downers Grove North almost had a state-qualifying team a year ago but lost some key gymnasts, namely all-arounder Lukas Elisha as well as specialists Kevin VanSaten and Augie Strauch. The Trojans still should be solid, turning to top all-arounder in senior Mike Kudelka. Adan Calleja, Riley Gagliano and Mikael Dukes also return. Dukes gives the Trojans a second all-arounder, while freshman Aaron Heppner may also compete in that capacity as well. "We are hoping to qualify many athletes to the state meet as individuals," Trojans coach Tony Ciezaldo said.
Downers Grove South will have a much different look. While senior Brock Herion will provide the foundation, look for freshmen Beau Herion and Jacob Klamer to add to the overall team score right away. If those three can consistently give the Mustangs solid scores, they should be in for a successful spring. The Mustangs last qualified for state in 2014.
Fenton coach Paula Parat thinks as many as five Bison gymnasts could take their skills to the state's highest stage this spring. She said Ricardo Torres, Arturo Alfaro, Daniel Alcaraz, Tony Palacios and Angel Morales all have the talent to do it. Alcaraz is the lone all-arounder in the group. Junior all-arounder Angel Barriga will also add to the team score.
Glenbard East will look for more than just big scores from junior all-arounder Marc Le but leadership as well. Coach Wayne Hill expects a lot of the freshmen from a year ago to make the transition to varsity and sometimes that isn't necessarily seamless. "Marc is greatly improved over the off-season, both in strength and ability skills," Hill said. "The strong freshmen team from 2016 will move up and fill many varsity spots. In addition, several tumblers will come from the sophomore and junior ranks."
Glenbard North is in rebuilding mode. "We are a team of underclassmen with no returning seniors," Panthers coach Michael Crissie said. None of the newcomers brings any prior gymnastics experience so Crissie has the daunting task of starting over with his team. The team will look to get introduced to the sport, to make progress by the end of the year and to continue to grow it in the next couple years.
Glenbard South has been a growing program in recent years and now has a team led by upperclassmen that's ready to see some success. "Our outlook is very good this year," Raiders coach Lee Wood said. "I have a large amount of juniors and seniors this year who have all been with this program their entire time here at South. They have picked up a lot of new skills in the off-season as well as in these first two weeks. I'm excited to see how we build off last year's momentum." Seniors Stephen Bean, Tay Tay Hall and Terry Hall and junior Sean McLaughlin have the Raiders excited about the spring. The addition of freshman all-arounder Charlie Bennett should also help as he, Bean and McLaughlin give the team three all-arounders.
Glenbard West lost 18 seniors to graduation, including Gunnar Maddock and Paul Bonokollie. That would devastate most teams, but the Hilltoppers have a lot of talent returning from a team that was edged by Niles West, 154.75 to 154.50 last May in the closest finish in IHSA team state finals history. Leading the way is Timmy Le, who took ninth in the all-around, won parallel bars and was second on vault. Matt Ideler, who was 20th in the all-around also returns along with senior still rings specialist Frankie Pham, who placed third in rings at state in 2016. Junior all-arounders Aiden and Shea Rudolph also return, and freshman Alexander Demeris should be a nice addition.
Hinsdale Central has been plagued by injuries the past two seasons. Can the Red Devils avoid them? "We are looking forward to a healthy and successful season," Red Devils coach Mark Wanner said. "Our team has worked extremely hard in the off-season and they are preparing and excited to start competition." Senior all-arounders Ryan Leahy, Nick Altandush and Zhiyi Zhu and junior all-arounders Alex Roca and Nolan Holmes are all back with a lot of experience so if they stay healthy they should one of the state's top teams.
Hinsdale South will be led by senior all-arounder Kwame Lipscomb, a state qualifier in the all-around who took third place on floor last year. Senior Trevor Long and junior Dominic Cassano provide some depth as all-arounders along with Lipscomb while senior pommel horse specialist Enrique Castellano and junior AJ Lampkin, a two-event guy, will also look to contribute. Newcomers Malcolm Moore and Easa Aristabol will look to add to the team score on one event apiece. "We need younger guys to step up and contribute to build a competitive lineup," Hornets coach Jarrod Amolsch said.
Lake Park returns a pair of state qualifiers in senior Luke Badger (high bar) and sophomore Louie Ranieri (floor) who look to get there again and a pair of seniors (Marco Serafini and James Firme) whom coach Tim Whelan believes could get there as well. "The outlook is to have a successful season," Whelan said. "Our success will be defined by hitting our routines from meet to meet, reaching our goal routines by end of season and improving our scores throughout the season." Freshman all-arounder Matt Scimeca is someone to watch later in the season as Whelan said he could be promoted to varsity. Serafini is another interesting gymnast. He's a ring specialist who dedicated his off-season to learning the other events.
Naperville Central bid farewell to Ryan Durkin who had battled injuries the past two seasons. Senior specialists Charlie Nawara and Taj Jacobs and juniors Kevin Sedlacek and Sam Piazza return for a team that netted a 121.6 during last year's sectional. "We're trying to build on a fairly new to varsity team," Redhawks coach Glen Reimers said. The Redhawks don't have any all-arounders. Sophomore Cameron Kalish and juniors Damien Dedivitis and Armani Carter are three newcomers to watch.
Naperville North welcomes new coach Chris Stanicek, who replaces the retired Brad Foerch. Senior all-arounder Brian Kay should lead the Huskies, while a number of specialists will look to contribute to the team's score. Stanicek said senior Cameron Luedeke will be a standout on rings and also compete on parallel bars and that senior Daniel Moore will be in the lineup on floor and vault and is particularly strong on floor. Sophomores Parker Ayers and Michael Hunter and senior Tyler Child will also look to contribute.
Wheaton Warrenville co-op will try to qualify for state for an amazing ninth straight year, a time frame in which the team has won three state titles and been runner-up a couple of times. The team has to overcome the loss to graduation of standout all-arounder, Lucas Cooperman. "We have a strong core returning despite the graduation of four-year letterman Lucas Cooperman," Wheaton co-op coach Greg Gebhardt said. "If we can avoid injuries, develop depth and continue to improve we should be competitive going into conference, sectionals and state." Senior specialists Andy Mathieu and Trent Hartman, senior all-arounder Austin Tate and junior all-arounders Joey DiRienzo, Brent Kelpsas and Aiden Moran all return along with six newcomers, including freshman Marty Franz.
Willowbrook will look to defend its conference title but will need increased contributions from its specialists to make that happen. Senior all-arounder Bailey Heppner and specialists Zach Zeffiro, Matt Barrantes and Matthew Smith all return, while sophomores Joel Saldana, Brendan Bailey and Matt Foley will also look to add to the team score. "We're hoping Zach Zeffiro can qualify for state again and that we can get some other guys to qualify as well," Willowbrook coach Caleb Strejc said. Junior Adam Sousa, who placed fourth in the state in the all-around last May, did not return to the team.
York juniors Jake Anderson, John Gill and Kelvin Stevens Jr. and seniors D'Angelo Williams, Robeson Gall and Dylan Aubry all return for new coach Nick Criel. "We're expecting more medals this year than last," Criel said. "State 2017, here we come." Charlie Cripe and Dom Milazzo will look to fit in as newcomers and contribute as well.
West Chicago senior Jacob Kurian, who placed eighth on pommel horse and 17th in the all-around at state last year, will compete this year as an individual. Neuqua Valley sophomore Eric Mitchell placed 19th in the state in the all-around last year, but he could not be reached so it's uncertain if he will compete again this spring.