MacDonald's all-around state title leads Wheaton to second straight team crown
FRANKFORT — David MacDonald came out for the Wheaton co-op boys gymnastics team with hopes of just contributing to an already talented roster.
The Wheaton Warrenville South junior ended up doing so much more.
Taking part in his first high school campaign after competing at the club level the past two years, MacDonald captured the all-around title at Friday's IHSA state meet and helped Wheaton win its second consecutive state championship in the process.
MacDonald, who on Saturday also placed first in four individual events (floor exercise, pommel horse, rings and parallel bars), finished with a score of 56.300, becoming just the second Wheaton gymnast in program history, along with Kyle Padera in 2005, to sit atop the all-around standings.
But as big as those individual accomplishments were, MacDonald chose to focus on those of the team.
"It was an awesome experience," said the junior, who has Padera as one of his club coaches. "I've never had a team that was so close. In club, we had a team but it is focused more on the individual. In high school, a team winning a state title is such an awesome bonding experience. It means all of the hard work paid off and we had a lot of fun doing it.
"I was in it for the team from the beginning. Winning (the all-around) was just icing on the cake."
In fact, he never envisioned walking away as the top gymnast.
"I was pretty surprised to say the least," said MacDonald, who missed time during the spring due to a sprained wrist. "I felt I would do good in a couple of things but mostly contribute to the team success. I was feeling great and it just happened I guess."
MacDonald's crowning achievements were just some of the outstanding performances put forth by Wheaton.
Fellow junior Ethan Sansone placed seventh in the all-around with a total of 53.850 while senior Danny Heller was in 20th (50.050).
Sansone was also the runner-up on floor, fifth on both pommel horse and vault and seventh on horizontal bars. Heller added 10th-place finishes on pommel horse and horizontal bar.
Add it all up and Wheaton was dominant in winning its third-ever first-place trophy.
"At the beginning of the year, the guys really thought we had the opportunity to do that," said Wheaton coach Greg Gebhardt. "Danny really dedicated himself to getting stronger because he knew he'd be an important part.
"We knew we had Ethan coming back who was fourth in the all-around last year and then with David, when you have an athlete at that level who wants to be a part of your team, that makes things easier.
And we had contributions from all of our specialists which makes for a very strong team."
With MacDonald and Sansone set to return next year, a dynasty could be forming.
"We will have a very talented group," Gebhardt said. "With David and Ethan coming back, next year will be really nice. The junior class is very strong."
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