Gymnastics: Wheaton co-op wins Downers Grove North Sectional

The Wheaton co-op boys gymnastics team made a big jump in its team score Friday.

In the Downers Grove North Sectional, Wheaton scored 151.25 points to earn the title, while the hosts had 145.3. Both teams advance to next weekend's state finals at Hoffman Estates.

"We had a 147 the last time so we jumped up four points, which is incredible," Wheaton co-op sophomore Patrick Malone said. "I couldn't have done it without my team. We were down two seniors (Michael Hertz and Brad Riggs) the entire season because of torn ACLs, but we made such a comeback this year."

Malone finished third in the all-around with 51.7 and sophomore Jack Ongstad was second with 52.7.

"The one thing I can say about today is this past week we've been hitting the gym and giving our all," Ongstad said. "This year we have a fantastic coach who tells us, 'I love you guys, but you guys are crazy, but you're also so close.' We have that relationship that we didn't have last year, and that relationship is what got us this far and will take us as far we can get."

Downers Grove sophomore Jake Mateja knows exactly what Ongstad means. Mateja almost didn't return this year. Instead, he took fourth in the all-around with a 48.75 while placing third on high bar and parallel bars and fifth on pommel horse.

"I did high school last year thinking I would only do it for one year, but everyone coming together brought me back," Mateja said. "It's one of the best experiences I've ever had in sports."

He wasn't pleased with how his team got started but had no problem with how they finished.

"I'm super happy with what happened after we had a rough start," he said. "We pulled together and had an amazing meet. The season has been full of ups and downs and we needed to come together as a team. Now we get to go on to state and show we can be a force."

Downers Grove sophomore Dan Swanson won vault with an 8.8. Trojans senior Tomas Radzevicius earned fourth place on still rings and freshman Robert Steffes contributed a fifth-place effort on high bar.

Glenbard East junior Vaden Srey, who tied for second on vault, won the all-around with 52.75.

"I'm super competitive so I just love that feeling after hitting routines nice and clean," he said. "It feels so nice to be flying through the air."

His 9.6 on pommel horse was a winning sectional highlight.

"I've been working hard on it all season," he said. "Hitting that was huge for my score. It helped make up for a little slip here or there."

Srey also took second on vault and high bar, third on floor and still rings and fourth on parallel bars.

Another sectional highlight was Kaneland senior Ethan Yost's 9.35 on floor that earned him the sectional title. He placed fifth in the all-around with 48.7.

"I felt really good," he said. "I think my performance really exceeded my expectations, so I really was excited to be able to go out and have fun and perform higher than I thought I was going to. It's nice to be able to do this without having to train so much while still performing up to my standards of what I want to do."

Wheaton co-op sophomore David Shimp's contributions won't be lost in the team's huge jump to victory. He tied for fifth on parallel bars and took fifth on vault.

"I'm so proud of our team," Malone said. "We had some unfortunate breaks this year for some guys in their final season so we were able to do this for them."

Glenbard West freshman John Mammoser's sectional debut was a dandy. He took second on parallel bars, tied for fourth on still rings and took fourth on pommel horse. His 48.05 in the all-around landed him in sixth.

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