Boys gymnastics: Hersey does what it has to do to make state
Garrett Naughton and Matt Bednar gave Hersey a good bedtime story.
Naughton opened the book and Bednar put his stamp on the final chapter as Hersey qualified for its first boys gymnastics state finals since 2001.
The Huskies scored a 150.35 Saturday at their own sectional in Arlington Heights to earn the final at-large spot to the state finals next Friday at Hoffman Estates.
"It was a nail-biter Hersey coach Joon Yun said. "Garrett and Matt do real well on the high bar. But it was our third guy, Will (Stefaniak), who really did a better job than he had been doing. "
Hersey came into the competition knowing that it had two paths to the state finals. The Huskies had to win the sectional title or have a score better than the 150.05 that Glenbard West, which competed earlier this week, had for the final at-large spot.
It became pretty clear that Hersey would not catch Deerfield for the sectional title. So the Huskies needed to score at least 24.20 on the high bar to qualify.
Stefaniak turned down the covers with a 6.60. Naughton followed with one of his best performances of the year, scoring a 9.20.
"I knew we needed to regroup and refocus," said Naughton, whose score was a sectional best.
"It was a good routine right when I needed it."
It came down to Bednar, who is a senior and a four-year performer for Hersey.
"I had no idea what I needed to do," Bednar said. "I know we needed to have the best high bar group we have ever needed in our lives."
Needing an 8.40, Bednar scored an 8.70 to set off bedlam in the Hersey seating area.
"I am just so happy," an emotional Bednar said. "I have been waiting for four years for this. It has been my main goal in my high school career to get our team to state. I am so happy that it happened."
It also happened officially for Rolling Meadows, which competed Friday night. The Mustangs earned their first trip to state since 2002 with their at-large score of 152.45.
They will be joined by Lyons, which is the other at-large team, along with sectional winners Schaumburg, Glenbrook North, Libertyville and Niles West along with Saturday's winner Deerfield, which scored a 154.95.
Deerfield's Matt Kroscher won the all-around with. 54.50. Naughton was second with a 54.35 and Bednar was third with a 53.50.
Naughton also won the pommel horse with a 9.30 and Bednar won the vault with a 9.45. Kroscher was sectional champion in the floor (9.30), rings (9.45) and the bars (9.20).
Prospect was fifth with a season-high 138.50. The Knights' Matt Donzelli was fourth in the rings and the vault and will be an automatic qualifier for the individual events finals next Saturday at Hoffman Estates. He will be joined by teammate Joe Kall, who was fifth in the high bar.
"It was our best meet of the year" Prospect coach Julian Bassler said. "We knew we weren't going to hit 150 and catch the other teams. But we just focused on the individuals."
The Knights and other teams could add more competitors to the individual finals when the official cutoff scores are announced Monday.
Elk Grove had its highest score of the season when the Grenadiers posted a 125.75. But it appears the Grens will not send any individuals to state.
"We are really happy we got a season high," Elk Grove coach Ryan Dengel said. "We were hoping for that. We had a couple of guys (Griffin McEnroe and Evan Powell) that just missed and that hurts real bad."
Lake Zurich's Peter Ferrigan competed for the Bears, who don't have an official team. The sophomore competed in four events with his best finish coming on the high bar where he was 12th.
"It was just me, Lake Zurich," Ferrigan said. "Go Bears. I did well. I was proud of myself."