Boys Gymnastics: Hinsdale Central nets at-large berth to StateTyler Leahy, of Hinsdale Central, performs on the Parallel Bars for the IHSA Boys Gymnastics Sectional Championship at Lincoln-Way East, Thrusday, May 3rd, 2012 in Frankfort, IL. | Gary Middendorf~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 8, 2012 6:18PM
Hinsdale Central’s Tyler Leahy doesn’t have to worry about going to this year’s state meet on his own.
The defending state champion on vault will have plenty of company, as Hinsdale Central advanced to the state meet, set for Friday and Saturday at Lincoln-Way East.
The Red Devils came up short of advancing to last year’s state meet, which ended a 21-year streak of state-meet appearances. But Central will make its 28th state appearance this year, after gaining an at-large berth based on its score of 147.8 at the Lincoln-Way East Sectional on May 3.
“We talked it over (before the sectional) on what we needed to do to get the team to make it to State,” Leahy said.
Three points did it. The Red Devils improved from their previous season high of 144.15 at the West Suburban Conference Silver meet on April 27.
Leahy is chasing history on vault. Only Ed Slezak and Ted Marcy have won repeat State championships for Central. Both came on pommel horse — Slezak in 1969 and ’70, and Marcy in 1971 and ’72.
Leahy was the school’s first champion on vault, scoring 9.6 last season.
“This year is my senior year,” Leahy said. “It’s time to show them what you can get, and leave nothing behind.”
The state meet will end Leahy’s gymnastics career. He will attend the University of Michigan to study theater and drama; he spent all day Monday attending an audition at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place in Chicago. He was one of 24 finalists (12 boys and 12 girls) to receive the first Illinois High School Musical Theater Awards, and the finalists performed the closing number from “Jersey Boys” after receiving direction from the cast.
One boy and one girl among the finalists will be chosen to represent Illinois in the national finals, in New York. Jayne Jaeger and Leahy, both Clarendon Hills residents, represented Hinsdale Central among the finalists.
Leahy ranks third on vault among State qualifiers after combining sectional scores. Leahy (9.5) was second in the sectional behind Lincoln-Way East’s Ajani Cargle (9.55), who’s tied with Mundelein’s Colin McCarthy.
Leahy — who qualified in every event — ranks 10th in all-around (51.7), and opens State competition in that event at 6 p.m. Friday. Individual preliminaries will be held at noon Saturday, and the finals begin at 7 p.m.
The Red Devils have four other competitors who earned automatic berths to the state meet, and three others earned at-large berths.
Karan Mahajan ranks sixth on horse (9.2 in the sectional) among State qualifiers, and is Central’s best bet to advance to the finals among the specialists. Mahajan and Jack Schmidt finished 2-3 on horse, while Schmidt’s 8.7 ranks 13th.
Schmidt will make his first state-meet appearance.
“Last year, I was 25th out of 50 at the sectional (on horse),” Schmidt said. “That puts it into perspective — where I was at the end of the season and where I am now.”
Schmidt became the third of four Red Devils to make State on horse. Laith Dasoqui (8.25) also advanced.
“I don’t expect to get to the finals,” Schmidt said. “Really, my dad (John) put it to me, ‘Just have fun and try to hit.’ ”
Sam Hamilton earned an automatic berth by taking fifth on rings (8.0) at the sectional. Hinsdale Central’s other State qualifiers are Neil Rembos on rings (7.65), Sam Pielet on vault (9.1) and Redmond on vault (8.8).
Patrick Kenny qualified for the state meet as an at-large entry on floor exercise with a score of 8.75 at the Lincoln-Way East Sectional.