Boys gymnastics: Sisauri exits with another triumph
It was not an easy task, but with the pressure on Saturday night in the 67th high school boys gymnastics state meet, Cary-Grove senior Luka Sisauri got the job done by winning his fourth individual state championship in as many years.
After winning state pommel horse titles as a freshman and a sophomore, and winning the state high bar title last spring as a junior, Sisauri was determined to get one more first-place medal to close out his high school career.
And while it was a very close call, in the end Sisauri found himself standing on top of the first-place podium once again as he won the pommel horse championship for a third time in four years with a 9.45 at Hoffman Estates High School.
Lyons senior Nick Perez and Highland Park junior Kevin Connors finished in a close second-place tie at 9.4, but this meet once again belonged to Sisauri, who qualified for the state meet in four events.
Along with his four individual state crowns, Sisauri placed third in the state all-around competition last year. But after breaking his arm last July, there was just no way Sisauri was going to be able to compete in all six events this season.
"I was hoping to make finals on a few more events, but I was glad I won pommel horse, that was my main focus for my final year," said Sisauri, who has committed to Nebraska and hopes to earn a spot on the gymnastics team as a walk-on. "Going into this whole high school season I was nervous because of my broken arm. So I wasn't as confident, but I stayed determined and it all showed in the end."
With his father (Levan) now coaching at the Air Force Academy in Colorado and missing part of Luka's senior year, the Trojans' standout gymnast had to make the best of the situation with some new faces coaching him in the gym this season.
"He (Luka) did really great -- he just stayed really consistent, and he went through three coaching changes this season," said Cary-Grove coach Casey Mahoney-Muno, who also coached Crystal Lake Central sophomore Colton O'Brien into the finals on Saturday night. "He (Luka) came very close to making the finals on floor exercise, and he definitely had the potential to qualify on all four for the finals."
After placing sixth in the state all-around competition on Friday night, Mundelein senior Kurt Lawrence made the finals in four events on Saturday to close out a very successful one-year stint as a high school gymnast for the Mustangs.
And while Lawrence did not take home any individual medals, he just missed one by taking sxith place on high bar with a 9.05.
Besides high bar, Lawrence qualified for the finals on pommel horse (10th), vault (11th), and floor exercise (14th).
"A couple of weeks ago he (Lawrence) was really inconsistent, but recently he really stepped it up and he started hitting everything," said Mundelein coach Jesse Piland, whose team placed fifth in the Elite Eight team meet on Friday. "He was very cool under pressure, he made the finals in four events, and I couldn't be happier with him."
Not only will Mundelein be losing Lawrence to graduation, but elite senior Tyler Collins (20th in state all-around), and senior all-arounder Carson Bernett will be two other huge losses to graduation. Junior Will Ferro will be a key building block for the Mustangs next year.
"Kurt really helped get us through the season and make it to state and we're really happy with the way we finished," added Piland, whose program has been to 22 state meets as a team. "We had three seniors that were not only the leaders in the gym, but they were leaders in the classroom and it was just another great weekend for Mustang gymnastics."
Libertyville had five gymnasts qualify for the state meet, but unfortunately none of them made the cut-off for the finals on Saturday night. Junior Max Faber (19th in state all-around) almost made the finals with an 11th-place finish on still rings. One of the finals qualifiers did not compete due to prom, and that would have given Faber a spot in the finals.
After becoming the first coach in state history to win state titles with two different teams, Deerfield coach Doug Foerch won the state coach of the year award by a landslide. Foerch (212-63 record) guided Mundelein to six state crowns between 1989 and 2000, and he has captured 11 top-three trophies in his storied 32-year career.