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Co-op not caught up in three-peat quest

Published: Wednesday, April 9, 2014 2:08 p.m. CDT
(Shaw Media file photo)
David MacDonald of the Wheaton co-op gymnastics team competes on the pommel horse in meet last season. MacDonald and his teammates are going for a third straight state title, but are taking things one step at a time.

WHEATON – Winners of two state championships in a row, the Wheaton co-op boys gymnastics team currently holds the top score in the state this season by more than seven points.

But despite being overwhelming favorites to become only the fifth program in state history to net three consecutive titles, the squad isn’t about to get ahead of themselves.

“They are not complacent,” coach Greg Gebhardt said. “They really want to develop their skills. They bring it every day. You look at the attendance sheet, and I don’t think any one of them has missed a practice. They have the opportunity to do something special, and they don’t want to take it for granted.”

The team has eight seniors on the roster, led by the dominant duo of David MacDonald and Ethan Sansone. MacDonald was the all-around state champion last spring while Sansone placed seventh.

“With eight seniors, our leadership is outstanding,” Gebhardt said. “The guys in the gym, they work well as a unit and a lot of times they are selfless.

“And Ethan and David, they are tremendous in the way that they provide a good presence and they model what high school gymnastics is all about. When you have all these kids and can build around those two individuals, you are going to have a great year.”

Wheaton has posted a high score this season of 160.40, which came March 8. The squad also produced a 160.05 March 28 despite a change in the scoring system this year that makes earning high scores much more difficult.

“It’s more difficult to get those big scores,” the coach said. “When they are comparing themselves to last year, I have to remind them to forget about what you did last year and just look at the skills and how you are performing them.

“But overall, I’m pleased with what the guys have done in the first half. I thought we had our best meet of the year at Lake Park, which was the last invite before break. Over spring break, we worked on our skills and tried to add more difficulty.”

As for what the team looks to accomplish during the next couple of weeks, a stretch that includes hosting the 13-team Dave Donaldson Invite on April 19, Gebhardt points to one main thing.

“Stay healthy,” he said, “and continue to work on the skills we need to work on. At the same time, we want to make sure we are having fun and enjoying all of the hard work we are putting in.”

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