Boys gymnastics: Benet, Burlington Central gymnasts make school history
Last year, Benet Academy sophomore Will Kastelic provided athletic director Gary Goforth with a new sport.
The Naperville resident intended to become the school's first boys gymnast to compete in the IHSA state series.
"He was a little hesitant at first but then we talked him into it and said we were going to do everything," Kastelic said. "They've actually announced me on the school announcements, the first male gymnast at Benet Academy."
While his 2020 competition never happened because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Kastelic has taken this groundbreaking season all the way to the state meet thanks to his performances at the Hinsdale Central sectional Thursday.
Kastelic earned two automatic state trips with top-five event finishes, taking fourth on high bar (8.1) and tying for fifth on vault (8.55). He could earn more berths at-large depending on scores at the three remaining sectionals Friday and Saturday.
"It feels good to make (more) history, get into the history books whenever you can. Top five at state on whatever I do (is the goal)," Kastelic said. "I've wanted to do (high school gymnastics) from the start and I just did it. And I got it done."
Yet another trailblazer, Burlington Central sophomore Ernesto Lopez-Magallanes, made even more history as his school's first boys entry in his high-school debut.
"I just knew already (I was the first) because there was never anything about it. I was like, 'Do they have gymnastics at this school?' They said no but you can start," Lopez-Magallanes said.
Lopez-Magallanes automatically qualified in all six events and all-around with a top-three finish with a second-place 52.30. Lopez-Magallanes also was second on pommel horse (9.05), high bar (8.9) and still rings (8.55) third on floor exercise (9.35) and fourth on parallel bars (7.9) and shared fifth on vault (8.55).
"Pretty good for my first high-school meet," Lopez-Magallanes said. "I feel really good (qualifying). I stuck everything on floor and I hit my whole pommel horse routine, which is rare for me."
Niles West easily won the sectional with 148.65 points for another state berth. Hinsdale Central was second with 135.35 points and Naperville North and Naperville Central were fourth and fifth with 122.35 and 119.20, respectively.
Naperville Central senior Tim Froelich earned his first two state berths, Naperville North sophomore Avi Sharon his first and Hinsdale Central junior Matthew Cihlar earned a return trip, this time including all-around.
Glenbard South allowed Kastelic to compete during two home regular-season home duals. For Lopez-Magallanes, the challenge was working around his club training at Midwest Elite Gymnastics Academy (MEGA) in Elgin, as well as still competing in track and field. He also has been to state twice in competitive cheerleading and joined football for the first time.
"I just wanted to try (gymnastics) because it was there. This year I did two new sports," Lopez-Magallanes said.
Hoping for any state berth, but especially horse, Froelich finished fifth (7.9) and also tied for fifth on parallel bars (7.55).
"That's very exciting," Froelich said. "P-bars I didn't even expect to qualify but horse I've been working so hard on getting new skills on and it just felt good that it all came together tonight."
At first, Sharon was weighing his at-large hopes. Then he qualified on rings with a third-place 7.85, which followed other solid routines on floor and horse.
"We've put a lot of hours into this so to see results, it really means a lot," Sharon said.
Cihlar opened with a 1-point deduction on rings but then qualified on the other five events en route to a qualifying third-place 51.10 in all-around. Cihlar was second on vault (9.1) and parallel bars (8.5) and third on high bar (8.6).
"I finished pretty strong on the remaining few events (after rings) so it turned out pretty well," Cihlar said. "I think I had a nice vault, a pretty good landing on that which I was pretty concerned about. It was a good high bar set as well."