Athlete of the Week: David MacDonald

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Wheaton co-op junior David MacDonald is a newcomer to prep competition this spring, but he’s anything but a stranger to gymnastics.

MacDonald competed on the club circuit before joining the team — a co-op of Wheaton Warrenville South and Wheaton North — this spring.

MacDonald, who attends WW South, led his team to its second straight IHSA boys gymnastics title on Friday night, while also winning the all-around title in the process with a 56.3. He’s the first all-around champion at Wheaton since Kyle Padera won in 2005.

On Saturday, MacDonald was just as impressive, if not more, winning four events. He is now the only Wheaton gymnast to win four or more individual titles in one season and the school’s first multiple-event champion since Tim Krueger won three events in both 2008 and 2009.

He proved most impressive on floor exercise and parallel bars, scoring a 9.75 on each event. The latter is the highest score on the event during the championship round, eclipsing the 9.7 posted by four gymnasts and most recently attained by Lincoln-Way co-op’s Brian Hulbert and Dan Hutton. The record score is a 9.8 by Kennedy’s Alex Kadar in the 2002 prelims.

MacDonald also won still rings with a 9.45 and shared the title on pommel horse with Hinsdale Central’s Brian Thompson and Fremd’s C.J. Patton with a 9.55.

For winning an all-around title, winning four individual titles and leading Wheaton co-op to a state team title, MacDonald has been named the Sun-Times Athlete of the Week.

“He had an amazing weekend and it couldn’t happen to a nicer kid,” Wheaton coach Greg Gebhardt said. “This is a kid who just walked into the gym saying he wanted to be a part of the team and was willing to do whatever he could to help us.”

On a team loaded with talent, MacDonald was the team’s Big Mac.

“I don’t think he missed a single practice this year either and that says a lot about the kind of hard worker he is,” Gebhardt said. “He’s such a modest kid and so team-oriented.”

So modest that he felt a bit fortunate in winning.

“I would say that I was lucky [Saturday],” MacDonald said. “I felt exhausted coming into this so I guess my body knew my routines better than my head. It just all came together in the end.”

MacDonald missed a few weeks of the season with a hand injury. It was so bad that there was concern that his career could be over. He ultimately recovered and didn’t miss a beat.

“He ripped [his hand] in rings but he couldn’t use tape on his hands for his p-bars routine,” Gebhardt said. “Tape’s too slippery so he had to gut through it and that shows you how tough of a kid he is.”

MacDonald needed to be at his best to win the parallel bars title, especially after watching Mundelein’s Colin McCarthy score a 9.6 and Conant’s Joey Mauk register a 9.7.

“That was one of the toughest parallel bars races I’ve ever seen here,” Gebhardt said. “You watch what the Mundelein kid [McCarthy] and Joey Mauk did so you knew he had to totally stick to win.”

After accomplishing so much, one has to wonder if MacDonald will return for his senior season next spring.

“I’ve had so much fun this year that I’ll definitely be back,” he said. “The thing with this team is we have a lot of fun, we do gymnastics for fun. The scores come after that. It all seems to work out in the end.”

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