Boys tennis: Hersey captures title at its own invite
It was an all Mid-Suburban League final in Arlington Heights Saturday afternoon at the annual Hersey boys tennis invite.
Tourney host and 2018 MSL East division champion Hersey beat league rival Fremd 5-2 to claim top honors over seven other teams.
The Huskies, led by Max Sheldon, swept all three flights at singles then held off a Vikings charge which saw coach Matt Duncan's team win three of four matches at doubles.
"Andy's guys did very well today. They deserved first-place honors, but we'll get another chance at them on Monday when we host them in our MSL opener," said Duncan of Hersey coach Andy Walton and his team.
Glenbard West, with three high profile state qualifiers back from a year ago, went 2-1 as did Prospect, while Buffalo Grove, Cary-Grove and York were 1-2 overall.
"We opened strong with a win over Cary-Grove, then were able to beat Glenbard West, whose roster is loaded this spring with three big-time players," said Walton.
"I always tell people that tennis is just as much an individual sport as a team sport. Some days your No. 3 singles player wins a key match, another day it's your No. 4 dubs coming through to help you on to victory."
Tad Keely says this year's team is his deepest in his last five season as head coach at Glenbard West, thanks in part to the trio of Alex Kernagis, Griffin Foster and Christo Maltby, and the addition of three freshmen.
"There's no reason why we cannot finish in the top eight at state this year," said Foster, who went 3-2 last year at doubles with Maltby.
Maltby will play at DePauw University in Greencastle, IN next season, Kernagis at Johns Hopkins University, while Foster is deciding on either Tulane or Kentucky.
Prospect pushed its record to 4-2 on the season after going 2-1 Saturday, including its victory over Buffalo Grove.
"We're still figuring things out like just about everyone else, but I expect to settle into a regular lineup sooner than later," said Knights coach Brad Rathe.
BG coach Michael Naughton has liked what he's seen from his No. 1, Joseph Hong, as well as his No. 4 doubles team of Lucas Regina-Lukas Januskis.
"Those two are a highly competitive team, have bought into what we're teaching, and play hard every time out," said Naughton.
It's been nearly 20 years since Hersey made an appearance at the boys gymnastics state finals.
The Huskies look to be on their way to making that happen again.
Despite not being at their best, Hersey still put on a show during Saturday's Fred Dennis Invite, scoring 144.150 points to win handily.
Lake Park was runner-up with a 134.125. Conant was a distant third with a 122.8.
"We didn't have a great meet," Hersey senior Matt Bednar said. "But it wasn't our worst either. It was OK, but we have a lot of improving to do from this meet."
Hersey last qualified for state in 2001 and is vying to get there for just the third time since 1990.
Bednar won the all-around with a 51.45 and was also crowned the vault and floor champion.
"Right now our third score is the most important thing with me and Garrett (Naughton) usually going 1-2," Bednar said. "At the beginning of the season, we were looking kind of iffy for a state-qualifying place, but the guys have really stepped up and done some good stuff for that third score. I'm really impressed."
Will Stefanik came up with four contributing team scores, producing on floor, pommel horse, parallel bars and high bar for Hersey. Jack Troyer delivered on still rings and Paul McGinnis and Jonathan Herda were huge on vault.
Naughton won pommel horse, high bar and parallel bars and tied for second on floor but had an off-day on vault and still rings.
"On rings some skills didn't count so that dropped my score a lot and on vault I balked and didn't flip it," he said. "Everything else was great. It was just those two events where I slipped up, but I'll go back into the gym and keep working it."
Bednar and the rest of the Huskies will undoubtedly be there with him.
"I want to enjoy my senior year, what I have left, as much as I can," Bednar said. "It's been my favorite season, but I also want to make it my best season. I don't want to leave anything out there. I don't want to have any regrets."
-- Chris Walker
Hersey finished the day with a perfect record, winning the first place match and all of its pool play contests in two sets. The Huskies, top team in the Black Pool, beat Orange Pool winner Plainfield South, 25-22, 25-19 in the title contest.
"We are kind of getting into our rhythm," said Hersey coach Laura Gerber. "This was a huge help to have five matches and I thought they did a really nice job. It took us a little while to get our blocks set and once we did we were slowing it down and our defense really picked up. Our serve-receive was fantastic so that we could run our offense."
Tim Nugent led the Huskies' offense in the title bout with 8 kills while teammate Brent Gurvis notched 6. Libero Lucas Irwin made 12 digs.
-- Jared Birchfield