Boys gymnastics: Heartbreaking finish to season for Libertyville's Richardson
After helping his school win their first boys state gymnastics title in school history and placing second in the state all-around competition, Libertyville senior Matthew Richardson was on top of the world Friday night at Hoffman Estates.
But the 68th Annual IHSA state meet took a fast turn for the worst for the elite gymnast Saturday afternoon as Richardson suffered a devastating and heartbreaking injury that abruptly ended what was otherwise an amazing and historic final season for the Wildcats.
After competing on pommel horse and still rings to start the preliminary round, Richardson moved to vault where he sustained what turned out to be a badly sprained left ankle that would send him to the hospital and end any hopes of what would have been a shot at at least two individual state championships out of his next three events.
"He was doing a laid-out full (on vault), he opened up a little early, and he sprained it," said Libertyville coach Josh Cimo, who was crushed by the loss of his top senior gymnast who had done so much for the team and the program this spring.
"He's definitely disappointed. He wanted to go out and represent Libertyville and represent himself."
Richardson getting hurt in the preliminaries made for a wide-open final round, but key injuries have always played a major role in the sport of gymnastics.
"His three best events are high bar, floor exercise, and parallel bars, and if he was in there I think he could have won it on high bar and floor exercise," said Cimo, who still had key senior Max Faber reach the finals on two events.
"(Richardson) gave it his all. Injuries happen, and it was disappointing he was not able to show his greatness in this sport. It's kind of a loss."
Faber barely missed out on getting on the medal stand on still rings as he placed sixth with a 9.15. Faber also added a 9.15 to tie for ninth place in the state on vault.
"Honestly making the finals is all I can ask for. I would like to make the top five, but it was a great experience," said Faber, who placed 14th in the state all-around on Friday.
"I feel so bad for (Richardson), especially going out like this in his senior year of high school and he doesn't get a chance to show off his other events. But he had a fantastic day (Friday). He helped us win the state title, and he took second in the entire state."
Mundelein senior Will Ferro shocked his coach, Jesse Piland, by putting together a great performance in two of his three events in his final meet.
Ferro would end up not only making the finals with a seventh-place 8.9 on pommel horse, but he also reached the state finals on vault, where he placed 14th with an 8.8.
"If you would have told me that he was going to make finals on not only one, but two events I wouldn't believe you," Piland said. "We didn't know he was going to come through as well as he did. He peaked at the right moment, and we're really proud how Will finished his high school gymnastics career."
Ferro was also a big part of the Mustangs' Elite Eight squad that placed sixth in the state before being decimated by some really key losses to graduation.
"I thought I had a good chance of making finals on pommel horse, but I didn't think I had a chance of making it on vault if I didn't hit my landing," said Ferro. "It's been really fun being able to compete with all my friends and to have the success we've had the last two years even though we're missing some guys now."
After edging Richardson by .05 points for the all-around title, Glenbard West's Alexander Demeris won the state titles on parallel bars (9.7), floor exercise (9.6), and high bar (9.5).
Stevenson freshman Jack White gained some valuable experience for the Patriots as he qualified for the state meet on floor, vault, and high bar.