Boys gymnastics: Freshman Balica leads Fremd past Schaumburg
On Senior Night, a freshman led the way for the Fremd boys gymnastics team.
Victor Balica won all six events in a dual versus visiting Schaumburg, and captured the all-around with a score of 49.80, as the Vikings bested the Saxons 131.00 to 112.80.
Not bad for an athlete who Vikings coach Jason Brandenburg said he "wasn't aware of" until Balica came up to him one day in the hallway.
"I didn't know about Victor until he stopped me one day in the hall," said Brandenburg. "I had a gymnastics shirt on, and he asked me about the gymnastics team and I told him about the open gyms. He came in, and he's been doing great ever since."
Balica won the floor with a 9.00, the pommel horse with a 7.00 and the rings with a score of 8.10. He was victorious as well in the vault (8.50), the parallel bars (9.0) and the horizontal bar (8.20), and he confirmed that he sought out coach Brandenburg to inquire about being on the team.
"I walked up to him and asked if he was the gymnastics coach, and he said yes," said Balica. "I told him about all the gymnastics I'd done (leading up to high school), and really just went on from there. I was able to show all the skills that I have and now here we are.
"It's exciting to be on the team. It's a lot of pressure being a freshman but it's also motivation. I want to do everything I possibly can to help my team, and help myself along the way."
Fremd senior Deagan Stoner took second in the horse at 6.80, and said that it's hard to believe he's in his last year of competition.
"Time flies," said Stoner. "It's crazy. It feels like just yesterday that I was here for my first home meet. I feel like this year I have a lot of pressure on myself, because I've been on varsity ever since my sophomore season."
Stoner, who will most likely attend Columbia College in Chicago in the fall and major in film study, had to put off his dreams of competing in the all-around due to a back injury, and now focuses on the pommel horse.
"Every day, I work on the horse, and it's really all I think about," he said. "Tonight could have gone a little better. I messed up a little in the beginning but was able to recover."
"Deagan is our team captain and one of the hardest workers I've ever seen," said Brandenburg. "He had a fall tonight but was able to get back up there, and hopefully moving forward he'll be able to clean it up and keep doing well."
Sophomore Joseph Ferlita of the Vikings was second in the all-around at 42.20, while senior Sam Mazeikis led Schaumburg.
Mazeikis was third in the all-around at 41.20, and the Saxons' senior said he enjoys being a mentor to the younger athletes on the team.
"It's like being a big brother," said Mazeikis, "just walking the guys through routines, pointing out where things are going wrong, and advising them how to show courtesy during the meets."