Boys gymnastics: Hersey's Naughton has record day at state
Hersey's Garrett Naughton had an exclamation point finish Saturday at the individual finals of the 68th annual boys state gymnastics finals Saturday in Hoffman Estates. It just wasn't the finish he had hoped for.
Naughton, who had medaled in the three previous event finals he competed in, smacked his head on the high bar as the final performer of the evening. He laid on the mat for a few minutes before he was helped up.
It came during his dismount and Naughton came crashing to the mat. He was immediately attended to and taken to the training room. He later appeared with his head wrapped in gauze as the crowd cheered his return to the gym floor.
"These things happen a lot and I will shake it off," Naughton said. "This is the first time I have ever done that. I need to go get fixed up. I'll be alright."
The bump to the head was the only detour in an exceptional two-day performance for Naughton.
He finished tied for third in the all-around on Friday. He then was second on the pommel horse with a 9.30, finished fifth on the vault with a 9.40 and tied for third on parallel bars with a 9.40.
At that point, Naughton had tied a school record set by Dan Muenz in 1976 for four medals in a single state finals meet. Naughton was positioned to make it five medals with his high bar performance until the missed dismount.
"I am pretty proud of that," said Naughton, who is a junior. "I'll take that. It is a shame I couldn't get another one. I didn't know about the record. I was just doing a routine."
Naughton's teammate, Matt Bednar, came away with some hardware in the two events he competed in. The senior tied for third on the vault with a 9.45 and tied for fourth on the rings with a 9.20.
"I am so happy with myself right now," Bednar said. "Only two finals and placing in both of them, I am speechless right now. Me and Garrett both medaling means so much for the program."
Rolling Meadows' senior Ben Kowalski also finished off his career on a high note.
After tying for third in the all-around on Friday, Kowlaski medaled in two of the three events he competed on Saturday. His three medals made him just the fourth gymnast in Rolling Meadows history to finish with at least three top-5 finishes in a state meet.
Kowalski placed 10th on the floor with a 9.05 and fifth on the pommel horse with a 9.05. He saved his best for last, finishing second on the high bar with a 9.45.
"It was a great way to finish," said Kowalski, the two-time Mid-Suburban League all-around champion. "I am excited that I got the score that I did. I was happy with my performance today. I'm always in a positive mood. I try to stay positive and that helps me."
Schaumburg, which finished sixth in the state on Friday in the team competition, had two gymnasts advance in the individual finals.
Brandon Nyborg finished third on the rings with a 9.30, tied for fourth on the floor with a 9.50, and finished sixth on the high bar with a 9.25.
"I did pretty well today," said Nyborg, who is a junior. "I am tired though. But this is so much different than any other meet. Everyone is cheering for each other, because only one guy is going at time."
Teammate Oscar Kulesza qualified for two events. He was sixth on the pommel horse, just missing the medal stand with a 9.00. He came back very strong on the parallel bars to finish tied for third with a 9.40.
"I just missed a medal," Kulesza said. "But that was OK. I came back real good on parallel bars and got one there."
Hoffman Estates' Alex Collier competed in the floor and vault finals. The junior, who made it to the state finals in vault last year, finished 11th on the floor with an 8.95 and 12th on the vault with a 9.05.
"I still have senior year," Collier said. "That's why I'm not so disappointed. I just have to bust my chops during the summer to get a little bit better."
Also returning next year will be Rolling Meadows' Mikael Dukes. Appearing in his first state final, Dukes finished tied for ninth on the vault with a 9.15.
"I was hoping to place higher, but things happen," Dukes said. "I am looking forward to being back next season."
Glenbard West's Alexander Demeris won the floor with a 9.60, the parallel bars with a 9.70 and the high bar with a 9,50. Deerfield's Matt Kroscher won the rings with a 9.55 and the vault with a 9.60. Glenbrook North's Cam Hardagree won the pommel horse with a 9.45.