Boys gymnastics: Buffalo Grove's Valek takes 3rd in state all-around
The boys are back.
For the first time since February 29, 2020, the Illinois High School Association has an individual state boys champion.
On Friday in Hoffman Estates, Niles West's Tegshmurun Jamiyankhuu won the boys gymnastics state all-around title. Jamiyankuu became the first individual state champion in a boys sport since Downers Grove South's Matthew Leinart won the 100-yard breaststroke at the boys state swimming championships 440 days ago.
Girls badminton, which had its state finals at the end of March, was the first IHSA sport to have a state finals since the pandemic shut down state tournaments 14 months ago.
"We are really excited to be able to provide this opportunity for the gymnasts and the coaches," said Tracie Henry, assistant executive director of the IHSA and administrator for boys gymnastics.
"It is awesome to be here. It has been a long road, especially for these kids to have this type of showcase at the end of the year."
There were a limited number of fans allowed and the meet was livestreamed for those who could not get tickets, which were reserved for family members of the gymnasts. The meet also had a change with the all-around and individual qualifying taking place on Friday and the team and individual event finals on Saturday at 11:30 a.m.
Jamiyankuu, a senior, won the all-around title with a 55.20. That despite competing with a torn labrum.
"I should be getting surgery in about a month," Jamiyankuu said. "It is not too terrible right now. I can push through it. I just decided it didn't hurt and take some Ibuprofen and see where it gets me."
Jamiyankuu will compete at the University of Washington in the fall. He joins his brother, Nomondalai, who was all-around champ in 2015 and 2016 and former Olympian Bart Connor, who was all-around champion in 1974 and 1975 as top gymnasts in the state from Niles West.
Lyons' Ben Taylor, also a senior, finished second in the all-around with a 54.40.
Buffalo Grove's Benjamin Valak figured he had nothing to lose after putting up a career-best best score at sectionals last week. So the junior threw caution to the wind, adding new skills this past week. The move paid huge dividends for the junior, who scored a 53.70 to garner a third-place finish.
"I added the biggest skills I could and I did them cleanly," said a beaming Valak. "I am really proud of myself."
Buffalo Grove coach Zack Crandall was also proud of Valak, who became the first Bison to hit the victory stand in the all-around.
"Ben is one of the top gymnasts I ever coached," said Crandall, who has been coaching for 16 years. "He has natural talent and he is a hard worker."
Glenbrook North's Daniel Lavrentiev was fourth with a 53.05.
"Everything is about consistency," Lavrentiev said. "And I did well. I am just more concerned about how we do as a team (Saturday).
Burlington Central's Ernesto Lopez-Magallanes made history for the Rockets. Not only did the sophomore become the first Burlington Central boys gymnast, but he was also the first Rocket to hit the winners stand with his fifth-place finish with a score of 52.75.
"I proud to be first person from my school to compete here," Lopez-Magallanes said. "My start was a bit shaky, but I think I made up for it in the end."
Highland Park's Anthony Hyatt was sixth with a 52.70 and Prospect's Joe Kall was seventh with a 52.50.
"I am pretty happy with that," Kall said. "It was one of my better meets. The goal is to have even a better meet (Saturday).
Palatine's Trey Wilcox was eighth with a 52.25 to finish just ahead of teammate Dominic Filichia, who had 52.20. Libertyville's Robert Cartwright was 10th with a 52.15 and Lake Park freshman Karl Vachlin was 11th with a 51.90.
Benet's William Kastelic, who became the first person from his school to make it to the state finals, was 18th.