Seniors Randy Yonan and Shane Kenna contributed to the Lyons Township High School boys gymnastics team’s first state title in 2021.
They came away feeling just as much as champions after this year’s state meet at Hoffman Estates on May 14.
Minus two of their top regular-season all-arounders, the Lions still earned a state trophy by taking third (149.70 points), 1 point ahead of fourth-place Prospect.
“We all knew coming in it was going to be a lot harder. [But] we knew we had a strong chance,” Kenna said.
The Lions achieved their sixth state trophy in program history and their fourth at the past five state finals. In some ways, this was the most rewarding.
“We knew going in that our first place was going to be the third-place finish,” LTHS coach Sam Zeman said. “A lot of people thought we were done, but we never believed that. That’s what made it awesome. Our guys always believed in themselves.”
During the regular season, the Lions were the state’s top-scoring team, including a school-record 163.60, but 50-plus all-arounders Alec Paras and Matt Adler opted to compete at a club gymnastics nationals meet in Mesa, Arizona, the same weekend as the IHSA state championships.
While Palatine (school-record 164.85) and Lake Park (158.45) finished first and second as expected Saturday, the Lions remained among four contenders for third based on sectional meet scores.
Yonan earned two top-five individual all-state honors by tying for fourth on pommel horse (9.05) and tying for fifth on still rings (9.0), an event he didn’t compete in 2021. Yonan’s 53.10 all-around total during the May 14 team competition was his second-highest all-around total ever after a 13th-place 51.70 in the May 13 individual all-around final and event preliminaries.
“I felt like I worked for this more than last year,” Yonan said. “I was just doing it for the team and mainly really working hard on rings and horse because I made it to finals on those two.”
Kenna, sophomores Will Taylor, Roman Hanyuk and Ryan Evans and freshman Nick Giordano also were individual state qualifiers. Sophomore Brian Kloes and freshman Sean McCabe also competed for the team.
With assistant coaches Tom Huml, Don Raymond and Xavier Barry, the Lions strived to increase routine values. Zeman noted Evans improved his parallel bars dismount and Taylor tried a more difficult vault.
“We would not have been third if they had not overcome their fears. That says a lot about their character,” Zeman said.
Kenna badly sprained his ankle five days before sectionals. His 8.55 on rings tied for 11th on May 13 and missed the top-10 individual finals by 0.15 points. On May 14, he re-inserted his double back flip dismount.
“That, for me, felt good. Although I didn’t stick it, I’m glad I got that,” Kenna said.
Yonan only competed three events last season but he’s now only the seventh LTHS gymnast to earn multiple all-state honors at a state meet.
“That’s really cool to be one of those people,” Yonan said. “[I’ll remember] how fun high school gymnastics was and all of the friends I’ve made through it.”