The Lyons Township High School boys gymnastics team won the IHSA state championship on May 15 in Hoffman Estates with 157.20 points, edging second- and third-place finishers Niles West (154.15) and Palatine (150.05)
It’s the first state title in program history, and the Lions were led by senior Ben Taylor who placed second in the all-around with a score of 54.40 on May 14 and garnered five all-state medals overall.
“This was a special time for the program, coaches and the athletes,” said coach Sam Zeman. “For so many years we believed we could get to this point, but so many things have to come together at the right time to come away with a state championship. In 2017, we missed the title to Glenbard West by 0.2, the closest meet in the history of the sport.”
In the team competition on May 15, the Lions also got a boost from junior Alec Paras, who returned during the early morning hours that day after competing the day before in the USA Gymnastics Development Program National Championships in Daytona.
“He got home at 2 a.m. and was at breakfast with our team at 7:30 a.m.,” said coach Sam Zeman. “During the team competition, Alec was 6-for-6, hitting every routine, then slept the whole way home after the meet.”
Because Paras didn’t compete at sectional he did not perform in the individual or all-around competitions.
Individually, Taylor placed second on floor exercise (9.6) and parallel bars (9.55), tied for third on still rings (8.75) and high bar (9.4) and finished eighth on pommel horse (8.3).
For his efforts, Taylor was voted Senior Gymnast of The Year by the Illinois High School Gymnastics Coaches Association, the first LTHS gymnast to merit the honor.
In the preliminary round, freshman Will Taylor placed 28th in the all-around competition and placed 27th individually on still rings.
Also, in the individual preliminary competitions, junior Randy Yonan tied for 17th on vault and placed 23rd on high bar, while freshman Matthew Adler placed 34th on high bar and pommel horse, 35th on parallel bars and floor exercise and 38th on vault.
The Lions also received notable contributions from seniors Dylan Brunelle, Conor Cahill, Nick Paulus and Will Soto; junior Shane Kenna; and freshmen Ryan Evans and Roman Hanyuk.
LTHS’ championship is also the first for Zeman, a 1980 LTHS graduate who has been on the Lions’ staff for 38 seasons, including the last seven as head coach.
“This year everything came together for us and it says so much about this team and everyone on it, including my assistant coaches, Don Raymond, who was head coach at Andrew for over 35 years; Tom Huml, LT grad and second in state in rings in 1991; and Xavier Barry, LT grad in 2014 and was on the team that placed third his senior year.