Boys gymnastics: Prospect's Kraft, Lake Park excel at Vic Avigliano Invite
Prospect's Callaghan Kraft went an unusual route to improve his boys' gymnastics floor routine.
It did not include extra routines or strength conditioning. Kraft credits joining Prospect's coed cheerleading team for his improvement.
"I had some friends on the team and they had been asking me to go out for the team," said Kraft, who is a senior. "I thought it would be fun, so I went out. I enjoy tumbling. I was able to get a lot more height on my tumbling. Because I was able to tumble on dead mat, I was able to get better."
Kraft was able to channel that and other skills into a winning performance Saturday at the Vic Avigliano Invitational at Rolling Meadows. Kraft won the floor with a season-best 9.30.
"Cheerleading helped me so much with double-backs," he said. "I have wanted to do one since my freshman year and now I can. I can also do a back twist."
Lake Park won the meet with a score of 50.60. The Lancers finished ahead of York, which was second with 50.45, and Wheaton co-op, which was third with a 48.10.
"They have been working hard," said Lake Park coach Frank Novakowski, whose team had five individual winners that helped them scored a 158.20 on Friday at the Krupke Invite at Lake Park.
"We practiced this morning and I think they were a bit tired. Their goal is to win a state title so we keep plugging along."
The Lancers had two winners Saturday night. Karl Vachlin won the rings with a 9.10 while Martavious Owten won the vault, also with a 9.10.
Owten has a great warmup and he said that was the reason he did so well.
"Coach said whatever happens in warmup try to re-create in the meet," Owten said. "And that's what I did."
Vachlin was the final performer on the rings. He held his handstand for an extra long time before a supportive crowd to come away with the win.
"I was just kind of in my own head," Vachlin said. "I have been working on that handstand in practice and that helped a lot."
Prospect added its second winner of the evening when Joey Kall captured the high bar with an 8.60. Kall added a Kip-Catch handstand to his routine and that put him over the top.
"I am really happy about it," Kall said. "It is the best routine I have done all year. I added the skill. I used to stop when I did it. But today I put it all together."
Wheaton's Andrew Blair put in an extra hour of practice earlier Saturday, looking to make sure he would have a good performance on the parallel bars. That extra work paid dividends as Blair won the event with an 8.50.
"I practiced before we got here just to get it solid," Blair said. "I needed to pop up at the end. I was super excited when I did and I really think I hit my set."
Palatine's John Pirone had been out with the flu the last two weeks. He returned Saturday and despite a fall on the pommel horse, won the event with an 8.80.
"I was a little shaky," Pirone said. "This is my first time touching equipment in two weeks. I am aiming high this year and I want to win state."