Brett Arias, Lincoln-Way Co-op seek resurgence at state

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For one morning, Lincoln-Way Co-op senior gymnast Brett Arias was the reporter at-large.

Or was he the at-large reporter?

Either way, on Sunday morning, he was the guy who woke up early and constantly checked the IHSA website for the at-large bids in this weekend’s state meet; and when it was finally updated, he took thumbs to keys and texted his four senior teammates the results.

“I gave out all the good news,” Arias said. “I woke up and checked online and texted them right away.”

Over the years, the L-Way squad never needed a Sunday-morning reporter for the at-large bids because the team consistently qualified for the state competition. The team took first or second in the state seven of the past eight years.

This year, the team wasn’t able to qualify, but getting five athletes to the meet individually was a nice consolation prize.

Brent Schneider was the lone Lincoln-Way athlete to qualify for the all-around as he registered a 51.0500 score in sectional action and snared the third at-large bid. He said his best shot at making the finals are in the rings division (he had the 10th best sectional score of 8.650) and horizontal bar (17th with an 8.250).

Arias automatically qualified for the horizontal bar and earned an at-large bid in the floor exercise. His 8.7000 on the bar was the ninth-best sectional score in the state.

Bryan Kowalkowski automatically qualified in the vault with a 9.100 sectional score, which was tied with four other competitors for 15th. There is also a four-man logjam ahead of him at 9.150. He wants to erase last year’s state memory.

“I messed up on the vault,” he said. “I fell, actually. I didn’t do very well. I would like to make up for it.”

He also qualified this year at-large on the horizontal bar.

Caleb Simpson and Chad Hosman both qualified at-large on the floor exercise.

Lincoln-Way East has hosted the event since 2009 when it became the first area venue to host an IHSA state meet.

For this crop of seniors, it has become routine.

There are positives and negatives for the athletes about hosting a state meet.

“It would be nice to be able to go somewhere else and stay overnight at a hotel,” Schneider said. “But it’s better to have a home advantage. We get to use our equipment. We know all the little squeaks in our equipment.”

“All of our friends can come and we get a lot of encouragement from the crowds.’’ Hosman added.

Simpson thinks it helps the mindset.

“We can visualize better what we need to do,” he said. “I think having it at home is better for nerves and things like that.’’

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