Boys gymnastics: Downers North sophomore Nicholas dominates sectional
For the Downers Grove North boys gymnasts, the giant white target board stands nearby at practices and home meets, reminding them of their ultimate score if they count all hit sets.
"We use the board to keep progress on things," junior captain Frank Miceli said. "It's our way of keeping ourselves in line."
On Monday, the Trojans continued getting closer with another season high, and now they'll get one more chance.
They're going to the state meet.
The Trojans' 145.85 points won the Downers North Sectional to automatically qualify for the eight-team field.
Sophomore Anthony Nicholas won all-around with a 55.20 and all six events. Miceli and freshmen Colby Bormann, Cael Brezina and Parker Elisha also earned individual state berths for those who finish top-five in individual events or top three in all-around.
Wheaton co-op, Glenbard East, Leyden and Elk Grove also had individuals automatically advance to state while finishing second through fifth as teams, respectively. Addison Trail and Glenbard South were sixth and seventh.
If the Trojans continue challenging their 148.30 goal score, they should challenge for a top-three state trophy. On Saturday, their 145.35 took second to top-ranked Lyons Township's 156.85 at the West Suburban Silver Meet.
"I'd say we're in the hunt," Downers North coach Tony Ciezadlo said. "We don't have great routines, nothing big. We just do it well. Anthony Nicholas, a different story."
Nicholas swept floor exercise (9.4), vault (9.35), high bar (9.25), still rings (9.1), parallel bars (8.85) and pommel horse (8.35). The Level 10 club gymnasts at Gymkhana has qualified for club nationals.
"Just the contributions to the team, if felt really great just to be able to help," Nicholas said. "(Miceli) just provides so much support along with everyone on the team."
As a freshman, Miceli was literally dragged to his first practice by upperclassmen.
"(Graduates) Sam Goedert and Asher Neil are the two guys that inspired me and they both went to state. Being able to live up to what they did and keep it going makes me proud as a gymnast," Miceli said.
"We've been really fighting hard this season. To see it really pay off by us all going to state, it's something special."
Wheaton co-op qualified seniors Andy Votava and Anthony Tarpeh, who led a young group (134.00 Monday) that should challenge for state in 2022.
Votava was second in all-around (49.15), rings (9.05) and high bar (7.65) and shared second on parallel bars (7.9). Tarpeh was second on floor (8.8) and vault (8.8).
"The biggest thing is just pushing the younger kids to get better. That ensures the future of gymnastics success," Votava said. "(State) feels really exciting because I put in a lot of work and it's nice to see it pay off. Not being a club kid, I think it's really an accomplishment."
Glenbard East freshman Vaden Srey shared second on parallel bars (7.9) and was third in all-around (44.80) and horse (7.45).
Junior Juilian Raomn Reynah, who tied for third on high bar (7.05), has come along way since his freshman year.
"I was horrible. I was so bad," he recalled. "I had this skill that I was working in the offseason and I put it together here. It's unbelievable that I actually made it to state."
Srey's older sister Veronika was a girls gymnastics state qualifier for theRams.
"It feels good to follow my sister," Srey said. "I tried hard, tried to do my best and I made it, I guess."
Elk Grove junior Michael Henske advanced with fifth on floor and third on vault -- an exhilarating 8.75 pike Tsukahara landing he considered his best vault ever.
"I've been doing it all year and never landed it. I would always just fall backwards. That was really nice for me," Henske said. "Especially since I have a whole other year of gymnastics, I can lay it out, start twisting it, get way better with it."
Leyden junior Patrick Gadocha was third on rings (7.75) to add to the Eagles' phenomenal season. They won their first West Suburban Gold title since 2020, when current Addison Trail head coach Mike Galfi and assistant Conrad Arteaga were among their standouts.
Monday's result was more of a surprise.
"Oh man, what? I didn't even know (state) was a thing. My hands are going to be very disappointed with me, but it's OK," Gadocha said.
"I honestly love rings. It's one of my favorite (events)."