Boys gymnastics: Stevenson rolls to sectional crown
It has been an eight-year hiatus since the Stevenson boys gymnastics team has reached the IHSA Elite Eight state tournament.
But the 5-time state champion Patriots easily qualified for the 2023 state meet next weekend at Hoffman Estates by rolling to the championship of their own eight-team sectional Tuesday night.
Stevenson scored 152.45 points to win the team title while Naperville North took runner-up honors with 143.25 points. Hersey (151.55 points) was the first team to qualify for the state meet Monday night with three more sectionals to be held over the next three nights.
Stevenson junior Thor Mace (8.76 average) captured the all-around crown with 52.55 points followed by Naperville North's Jack Halama (8.51 average) in second, and Mundelein's Braeden Kratz (8.44 average) in third. Mundelein's Holden Allsbury (fourth-place 50.05 points) is a lock to earn an at-large berth to the state meet along with many other gymnasts from this sectional.
The top five individuals in each of the six events Tuesday also advanced to the state meet. At-large cut-off scores for the state meet will be announced following the last sectional Friday night at Downers Grove North.
"They've come a long way to learn the skills they have,- especially floor exercise and high bar," said Stevenson coach Dylan Kowatsch. "Thor is a great gymnast. When the time comes he always hits."
Naperville North still has a shot to earn one of the three at-large team berths to the Elite Eight. But the Huskies' score is currently second behind Fremd (144.2).
"We started off a little slow with some difficulties on pommel horse, but after that we picked it up," said Naperville North coach Chris Stanicek. "Jack (Halama) had a really good meet. He looked like he wanted it, and he did well."
Carried by Kratz and Allsbury (100.70 points combined), Mundelein placed third with 131.35 points.
"We've been looking to break 100 all year between Braeden and Holden, and Braeden had a really good meet," said Mundelein coach Jesse Piland. "I think both guys can make it to the state finals in several events if they have a good meet."
Stevenson freshman Eliott Haskell (49.45 points) placed fifth in the all-around followed by Naperville North's Avi Sharon (48.7) in sixth, Stevenson freshman Eli Haskell (48.25) in seventh, and Barrington's Krish Patel (48.2) in eighth.
"This has been one of our best meets," said Mace, whose team scored over 154 points earlier this season. "Obviously the goal is to win (state), but even if we don't just get our personal bests."
Stevenson's Santi Gonzalez (9.35) was the floor exercise champ while Elliott Haskell (9.35) won vault. Mace (9.2) soared to the high bar title with a fabulous dismount while Halama (9.1) took first place on parallel bars. Sharon (8.7) won still rings while Allsbury (8.6), Eli Haskell, and Kratz tied for first on pommel horse.
The 2022 state runner-up Lake Park is among the state title contenders next weekend. Legendary Deerfield coach Doug Foerch believes that the IHSA will decide to continue the sport of boys gymnastics for at least another season when the official decision is made following the 2023 season.