Boys gymnastics: Stevenson uses final event to knock off Naperville North

  • Stevenson's Thor Mace competes on the pommel horse against Naperville North in a boys gymnastics meet in Lincolnshire on Wednesday, April 13, 2022.

      Stevenson's Thor Mace competes on the pommel horse against Naperville North in a boys gymnastics meet in Lincolnshire on Wednesday, April 13, 2022. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Naperville North's Avi Sharon competes on the still rings in a boys gymnastics meet against Stevenson in Lincolnshire on Wednesday, April 13, 2022.

      Naperville North's Avi Sharon competes on the still rings in a boys gymnastics meet against Stevenson in Lincolnshire on Wednesday, April 13, 2022. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Stevenson's Finlay Oyston performs on the pommel horse against Naperville North in a boys gymnastics meet in Lincolnshire on Wednesday, April 13, 2022.

      Stevenson's Finlay Oyston performs on the pommel horse against Naperville North in a boys gymnastics meet in Lincolnshire on Wednesday, April 13, 2022. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Stevenson's Tyler Ehlen competes on the still rings against Naperville North in a boys gymnastics meet in Lincolnshire on Wednesday, April 13, 2022.

      Stevenson's Tyler Ehlen competes on the still rings against Naperville North in a boys gymnastics meet in Lincolnshire on Wednesday, April 13, 2022. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Naperville North's Matas Budreika competes in the floor exercise against Stevenson in a boys gymnastics meet in Lincolnshire on Wednesday, April 13, 2022.

      Naperville North's Matas Budreika competes in the floor exercise against Stevenson in a boys gymnastics meet in Lincolnshire on Wednesday, April 13, 2022. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Naperville North's Kai Goodrick on the still rings in a boys gymnastics meet against Stevenson in Lincolnshire on Wednesday, April 13, 2022.

      Naperville North's Kai Goodrick on the still rings in a boys gymnastics meet against Stevenson in Lincolnshire on Wednesday, April 13, 2022. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Stevenson's Santi Gonzalez competes on the still rings against Naperville North in a boys gymnastics meet in Lincolnshire on Wednesday, April 13, 2022.

      Stevenson's Santi Gonzalez competes on the still rings against Naperville North in a boys gymnastics meet in Lincolnshire on Wednesday, April 13, 2022. John Starks | Staff Photographer

 
By Bill Esbrook
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 4/13/2022 9:25 PM

It all came down to the final event Wednesday night, the horizontal bar, for the Stevenson boys gymnastics team.

The Patriots led visiting Naperville North at that point just 125.30 to 125.00, so they knew a great performance was needed.

 

That's when Stevenson junior Santi Gonzalez stepped up his game.

For the first time in competition, Gonzalez put a back full dismount into his routine, and carried it off flawlessly.

He posted a 7.3, and Patriots powerhouse sophomores Finlay Oyston and Thor Mace followed that up with an 8.5 and 9.2 respectively as Stevenson won 150.3 to 147.0.

Gonzalez was mobbed by his teammates, offering their congratulations after his dismount.

"Our boy Santi got his Higgins (a high bar skill done from a handstand) and a full today, and the guys were very excited about that," said Patriots coach Dylan Kowatsch.

"We've been drilling that (the high bar) a lot this week, over and over again. We were on edge all meet, honestly, trying to calculate scores, trying to see where they (Naperville North) were at and what we needed to improve upon."

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Gonzalez was a gymnast when he was younger, took some time off to focus on skateboarding, then returned to the sport when he entered high school.

"I had tried it (the back full dismount) only once before, last year, and I fell," said Gonzalez. "But I tried it in warmups today and did a pretty good one so I decided to add it to my routine."

Mace won the all-around (53.80) and took first in the parallel bars, and his horizontal bar score was good for first place as well.

Avi Sharon of Naperville North, a state qualifier last year, won the pommel horse (8.80), the rings (9.20), and tied for the top spot in the vault with Mace and Oyston.

"Avi and Jack Halama are the two guys we like to build everything around," said Huskies coach Chris Stanicek, "and Matas (Budreika) is new to the team but is stepping up and being an impact player.

"We were pretty close the whole way, they just edged us out on the high bar, but overall I was pretty pleased with our performance. There are still some things we need to work on, as far as adding skills to our routines, to elevate our starting values and get ready for the conference meet."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Budreika and Halama tied for the floor exercise win at 9.0, along with Mace.

Sharon finished second in the all-around (50.70) while Oyston (49.80) was third.

"Hopefully we can make it to state as a team this year," said Gonzalez. "That's the goal right now. We're looking really good, I'm not sure that Stevenson has ever had this strong of a team."

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