Alex Janicki ‘17 sticks state titles

After a season of injury, improvement and leadership, Janicki attained success at gymnastics state meet

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Izy Scott , Assistant Pulse Editor

When Alex Janicki ‘17 became a state champion of three events at the IHSA Gymnastics State Final Meet this past weekend, the reality of first place had yet to resonate with the adrenaline-wired sophomore.

“It’s still kind of sinking in how big of a deal it is,” Janicki said. “Everyone keeps telling me it’s such a huge deal and I say that I know, but I really can’t even comprehend it. I couldn’t even think besides, ‘wow I want to have this feeling forever. This is awesome.’”

Placing first for High Bars, Parallel Bars and Floor did not come without conflict, however. During the preliminary round Saturday morning after an unstable landing he was helped off of the floor by his coach Sam Zeman and told by a trainer that his ankle could possibly have a stress fracture. Just five hours later, Janicki became a state champion.

“It was an extraordinary display of physical and mental toughness,” Zeman said. “It seemed like the pain cleared his mind and sharpened his senses. He is truly a great competitor.”

Following his state floor routine where he scored a 9.9, Janicki earned a score of 8.8 for high bars and a personal best of 9.25 for parallel bars respectively.

“Going into floor, I was a little nervous because I stuck it in the preliminaries, so I was nervous I wouldn’t stick it in the finals, but then I came out and I stuck it perfectly,” Janicki said. “That was just a huge memory for me, and after watching my routine I could tell that it was the best routine I’ve ever done.”

At the event, he was among teammates Nick Perez ‘18 who ranked 29th on pommel horse, Joe Gallagher ‘16 who placed 41st on floor and Jon Howard ‘15 who finished 13th on floor. Janicki said he would often help his teammates improve their skills whenever he took temporary breaks for injury throughout the season.

“The team was probably the biggest component of my state titles because they pushed me to be a leader,” Janicki said. “At the beginning of the season I was kind of quiet, and I had to step up and take charge. So they pushed me, encouraged me and cheered me on.”

Only a handful of upper-classmen hold roster spots on the team, so Janicki’s accomplishments will play a factor in the evolving team under new head coach Zeman. As for Janicki’s personal future in gymnastics, the surface is just being scratched.

“A lot of people have been asking me about if I’m going to go to college and do [gymnastics], but in all honesty I have no plans for my future right now,” Janicki said. “I’m just waiting for things to fall into place and see what kind of opportunities I have.”

As he waits to see what the future holds, Janicki said he will work to improve his scores for rings and pommel horse to match or surpass his state-winning event performances. For the time being, however, despite agravated injuries, a healing blister from preliminaries and skin indents from taping his ankles and elbow all season, Janicki has no intention of slowing down next season, especially with a state championship to build off of.

“Around the state, Alex was not well known,” Zeman said. “He was not one of the big guns in the sport. Next year, as the defending State champion on three events, he will be the one everyone is watching. And Alex will thrive on it.”