Boys Gymnastics 2014: Southland teams say they’re ready to adjust to new system
By Jeff Vorva For Sun-Times Media March 2, 2014 10:30PM
Andrew co-op’s Kevin Ferrentino (from left), Omar Ashour and Derek Kwiatkowski are three of five returning Southland athletes who finished in the top 20 in the boys gymnastics sectionals last season. | Jeff Vorva/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 4, 2014 6:13AM
What’s new in Southland boys gymnastics?
Just about everything.
The top performers from a season ago were seniors and have graduated, leaving the preseason full of question marks for the area’s three teams. The Lincoln-Way co-op team has been the SouthWest Suburban Conference champion for all eight years of the conference’s existence, but none of its returning athletes posted a top-20 score in sectional action in 2013.
Andrew co-op’s Omar Ashour had a sixth-place finish in the vault event while teammates Kevin Ferrentino (15th place) and Derek Kwiatkowski (19th) had top-20 showings in the floor exercise. Homewood-Flossmoor’s Kyle Johnson took 11th on the vault and teammate Akeem Beymuhammad was 15th.
To complicate matters a little more, styles and routines will change, thanks to the IHSA’s new scoring system.
Andrew coach Don Raymond said it’s possible some low scores will be posted early in the season as athletes get adjusted to the system.
Some gymnasts say it will be confusing at first.
“Everyone is learning about the rules,” Ferrentino said. “It will be different, but fun.’’
The new system rewards the technical prowess of basic moves.
“There are moves we could make last year that were a lot more difficult,” Ashour said. “Now I can’t even throw those because they won’t give you the points for those. Now I have to throw more simple moves but (the points for those moves) will still go higher. They changed it from 10 moves per event to eight moves.
“It’s different, and we’ll try to get used to it. It’s a work in progress.’’
The season opens Tuesday, when Hinsdale South visits Lincoln-Way. All three Southland teams will compete March 14 at the Homewood-Flossmoor Invitational.
Despite the unknown performers at Lincoln-Way, first-year coach Allison Hack is hoping to develop some of the athletes into state qualifiers. Anthony Balsamo (21st on the pommel horse in sectionals last year), Tyler Greenberg, Karson Kokotan and Kaleb Hong are athletes to watch.
Is this the year Andrew or H-F can grab its first conference title? Andrew team members are not making that claim.
“Lincoln-Way has some guys who have practiced during the offseason so they have some gymnasts who have gotten better,” Ashour said. “They might still be the team to beat, but they lost a lot of seniors. I feel really good about this season.’’