Shane Kenna

After winning its first state championship in 2021 and being the top-rated team throughout this season, the Lyons Township high School boys gymnastics team needs a dynamic effort just to earn another top-three state trophy during the IHSA state championships on May 13-14 at Hoffman Estates High School.

Senior Shane Kenna wasn’t afraid to tell or show the Lions how at the LTHS Sectional meet on May 5.

Kenna gave the pre-meet speech and remained in the lineup to help the Lions win with 149.30 points and qualify for the eight-team state meet.

Five days before, Kenna suffered a badly sprained ankle at practice while landing his double back flip dismount off still rings.

“It’s honestly feeling a lot better now. I told [the trainers] just load it up with tape,” Kenna said. “Slowly it’s gotten better and better to where I can do the bare minimum when it comes to dismounts.”

Senior Randy Yonan won all-around (52.90) and parallel bars (9.05), was second on pommel horse (9.35), still rings (8.7) and high bar (8.5) and also earned individual state berths on floor exercise and vault.

Kenna qualified for state individually on both of his usual events, parallel bars and rings, even with removing his double back. Also qualifying individually were sophomores Will Taylor (all-around, floor, horse, rings, parallel bars, high bar), Roman Hanyuk (horse, high bar) and Ryan Evans (rings) and freshman Nick Giordano (floor, high bar).

“We had a pretty good [sectional] meet, but we know we can do a lot better,” LTHS coach Sam Zeman said. “[Kenna has] been trying to take care of himself, heal it up the best he can. We knew when the lights came on in the meet, he would turn it on. That’s just the way he is. He’s got a big heart and he’s not going to give in that easily.”

At state, the Lions need all of the points they can get. Two of their top all-arounders, senior Alec Paras, arguably the state’s top all-arounder, and sophomore Matt Adler, instead will be competing at U.S.A. Gymnastics club nationals the same weekend as IHSA state.

During the season, LTHS was the only team to score in the 160s and did so seven times, including a school-record 163.60.

Palatine (school-record 163.40 at sectionals) and Lake Park (155.95) now appear as title favorites.

The Lions’ sectional score still was the state’s third highest, but Wheaton co-op (148.10), Prospect (147.70) and Hoffman Estates (146.80) were close within range.

“We’re in a good position for the third-place spot, but they’re not going to make it easy,” Zeman said.

With the altered lineup, Yonan won all-around at a major event for the first time with his second-highest total ever.

Kenna has been wearing a protective boot at school and using crutches at home. He hopes by state to resume his double back dismount off rings.

Only once has LTHS earned state trophies in consecutive seasons, taking second and third in 2017 and 2018.

“We know we’re not as good as we were last year, but we still know we are a solid team,” Kenna said. “Just because we lost our two top scorers doesn’t mean we’re going to fall to the bottom. We’re still here.”