Boys gymnastics: Palatine overcomes adversity to finish 3rd at state
When Palatine all-arounder Carter Christenholz went crashing to the floor after hitting the bar with his legs, it appeared that his team's chances at a state trophy went with him. It got even worse when he was taken away by ambulance.
It was just the third routine of the day for Palatine and Christenholz, who dislocated his elbow, would be out for the remainder of the meet. But Palatine dug deep.
The Pirates' two top all-arounders, Trey Wilcox and Dominic Filichia, stepped up big. Palatine also had a host of specialists and 13 routines from junior varsity gymnasts, including five routines that had to replace Christenholz.
That formula enabled Palatine to gut out an impressive third-place finish and take home a trophy with a score of 150.05 at the boys state gymnastics finals Saturday at Hoffman Estates.
"We talk about life lessons and this was truly it, " said Palatine coach Scott Hagel, who earlier was named co-coach of the year.
"Just for the way the guys stepped in and filled in with some rough adversity, I think it goes to show for what we have all done over the past year. Every time we have had some adversity we have all stepped up. We move forward and pick our head up. Sometimes things turn out OK."
Lyons Township won the team trophy with a score of 157.20, while Niles West was second with a 154.15.
"They have been great all year," Lyons coach Sam Zeman said. "They are peaking at the right time and it has been an incredible ride."
Mundelein finished fourth with a 148.35. And after his team lost a gymnast to a broken arm and had another out for a time under COVID protocols, Mustangs coach Jesse Piland was pleased with his team's finish.
"We were on pace for a good meet," Piland said. "But halfway through the meet we just couldn't quite seal the deal. With the year that we had we didn't know if we were going to make it to the end of the season much less to the postseason. So we are extremely excited on how the season ended."
Braeden Kratz finished fourth on the pommel horse for the Mustangs, while Kyle Massel took sixth on the rings.
Glenbrook North was fifth with a 147.70 while Prospect, making its first appearance at the finals since 2006, was sixth with a 139.05.
"I am so happy," Prospect coach Julian Bassler said. "I am really happy for the boys. We only had two misses out of the 18 scores that counted. They did an amazing job."
Along with the team titles, the six individual event finals were held concurrently.
Wilcox continued to make it a great day for the Pirates when he won the pommel horse with a 9.60. Wilcox got the information about his win from his father, Jeff.
"My dad told me I won and that was good," Trey Wilcox said. "I came off the pommel thinking it was just OK. It was on par with some of my other routines, but it pulled through."
Buffalo Grove's Benjamin Valak, who was third in the all-around on Friday, followed up with a winning performance Saturday on the parallel bars with a 9.60. Valak became the just the second Bison in school history to win an event, joining Dewey Deal who won the parallel bars in 1977.
"This is a dream," said Valak, who was second on the rings and fifth on the floor. "I never imagined this could happen. (Friday) night, when I did this event, I moved my hand a couple times. Today, I made sure I didn't. I had perfect handstands."
There was a tie for honors on the vault with Libertyville's Robert Cartwright and Burlington Central's Ernesto Lopez-Magallanes both scoring a 9.30.
"I didn't expect to win vault," Cartwright said. "This is only my second time competing a layout and I didn't stick it the first time. I didn't expect to stick it and I did."
Lopez-Magallanes, who was the first boys gymnast in school history to compete in the state finals, now becomes the first to win a state boys gymnastics individual event.
"It feels amazing," Lopez-Magallanes said. "My vault was the best I have done this year. I did a layout and I stuck it."
Niles West's Tegshmurun Jamiyankhuu, who won the all-around title on Friday, won the floor with a 9.75 and the high bar with a 9.55. Highland Park's Anthony Hyatt won the rings with a 9.00.
Lake Park freshman Karl Vachlin took second on the high bar, and fourth on the floor and the parallel bars.