Boys gymnastics: Naughton, Kowalski do Hersey, Meadows proud at state
It's all about timing for Hersey's Garrett Naughton and Rolling Meadows' Ben Kowalski.
The pair competed well last week but neither won a sectional all-around title. The duo saved their best performances for when it really counted when they tied for third place in the all-around at the 68th annual state gymnastics finals Friday at Hoffman Estates.
Naughton, Kowalski and Crystal Lake Central's Colton O'Brien each scored a 54.75 to share third place in the all-around. Glenbard West's Alexander Demeris won the championship, edging Libertyville's Matthew Richardson 55.55 to 55.50.
Both Naughton and Kowalski were thrilled with their third-place finishes.
"It was one of my best performances I have ever had," said Naughton, who was 13th in the state last year.
"At it was at state. I didn't get a medal last year and I was really working hard this year to get one."
Kowalski, who was 16th in the all-around last year, moved way up this year.
"It was one of my cleanest sets of the year," Kowalski said. "The scores weren't exactly where I wanted them, but they were decent. My goal was to hit 6-for-6 and I did that."
Schaumburg's Brandon Nyborg, who was a sectional champion last week, struggled on the high bar and parallel bars. But his terrific floor routine, which netted him a 9.55, enabled him to push his way to a seventh-place finish in the all-around with a 54.20.
"It was a rough meet, I am not going to lie," Nyborg said. "I am excited about (Saturday). I can't wait to compete again."
Hersey's Matt Bednar was 11th in the all-around with a 53.75. Schaumburg's Oscar Kulesza was 17th with a 51.95 and Rolling Meadows' Justin Kurak was 21st with a 50.80.
Nyborg, Kowalski and Naughton along with other individual qualifiers will be competing for the six individual event championships Saturday. Qualifying is at 11:30 a.m. and the state championships begin at 5:30 p.m.
The team title was also decided Friday with Libertyville capturing the schools's first state championship with a score of 159.15. Niles West was second with a 158.65 and Glenbrook North was third with a 157.70. They were followed by Lyons' 156.05 and Deerfield's 156.05.
The Mid-Suburban League sent three teams to the state finals. Schaumburg finished sixth with 155.50. Rolling Meadows was seventh with a 154.30 and Hersey eighth with a 153.60.
Schaumburg finished sixth for the second consecutive year. The Saxons struggled early in the meet, especially on the pommel horse, where they had six falls.
"It was not our day today," Schaumburg coach Erik Bostrom said. "It was probably our worst meet we had with everybody in it. I think the nerves got to them. But they recovered at the end and finished strong and I am proud of them for that."
Rolling Meadows, which had not qualified for the state finals since 1993, made the most of its appearance. The Mustangs showed that they were just not happy to be in the finals when they put up their best score of the season.
"They were a bit complacent earlier in the week," Rolling Meadows coach Michael Costa said. "They really picked up the pace. Accolades to my kids. They really pulled it together here."
Also pulling things together was Hersey. The Huskies, making their first appearance in the finals since 2001, finished off their year with a season-best score.
"We knew coming in that it would be difficult to place in the top five," Hersey coach Joon Yun said. "I told the kids that our goal was to come in and score a 153 and they did it. It was our best meet of the season, which was in the state meet and that makes me very happy."
Others area gymnasts who were competing in the all-around finals were Hoffman Estates's Alex Collier, who finished 29th with a 47.40, and Palatine's Trey Wilcox, who was 30th with a 40.15.