Boys Gymnastics: Lazar, Niles West specializing in winning04/28/2011 Evanston Niles West junior Ari Lazar competes on the pommel horse during the CLS Varsity Conference Championships at Evanston High School on Thursday, April 28, 2011. | Michael Jarecki ~ for Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 2, 2012 6:36PM
Lacking an all-around gymnast hasn’t hindered Niles West.
First-year head coach Adrian Batista has utilized the depth of his roster this season and it makes it easier on his team if there’s a slip-up.
“It’s working for us,” said Batista. “It’s a little harder to have everyone hit, but if one guy misses, it’s not the end of the world and we could recover because we’re pretty deep.”
The Wolves don’t feel slighted by Batista’s decision to exercise his options.
“We love that we don’t have an all-arounder,” said senior Ari Lazar. “We are so proud that we are putting up state scores from a team that doesn’t have a club kid, whereas all the other ranked teams in the state have club kids.”
His team may be in a positive state of mind at the moment with their situation, but Batista can see it changing when the time is right.
“That’s just the way the team’s been this year,” Batista said. “In a couple years from now, we may have three all-arounders and that’s what we’ll go with, but we’ll do whatever we can do to put together the best team.”
Niles West (3-1, 3-1 CSL) picked up another first place finish Saturday at the sixth annual John Burkel Invitational.
The Wolves, behind a sensational performance on vault, scored 134.55 points to capture the 13-team meet.
Lazar placed second on pommel horse (8.4) and fourth on parallel bars (8.3). Last season, Lazar qualified for state on pommel horse and this year he’s ready to raise his game and advance in three events.
“I have a little cleaning up to do if I want to make finals,” Lazar said. “If I hit on parallel bars, I think I can go to state and rings I just need to clean up a trick or two and throw in a double back and I’ll be ready for state.”
Senior Brent Quimosing was close behind Lazar on the horse, placing eighth (7.05). Senior Josh Nicolasin, another state hopeful, took second on the still rings (8.8), while junior Brandon Naguita finished fifth (7.55).
On floor, senior Casey Mahoney-Muno came in fifth (8.55) and tied for 10th on vault (8.8). Senior David Imamkarimov grabbed seventh place on the horizontal bar (6.7).
Batista and the Wolves have meshed well so far this season.
“The team is responding really well with me,” said Batista. “They’ve taken me in as their head coach, they’re listening and they’re buying into what I’m selling.”