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State trophy on Hilltoppers' radar

Published: Wednesday, April 9, 2014 2:07 p.m. CST

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GLEN ELLYN – Falling a little short of reaching the state meet as a group last spring, Glenbard West’s gymnastics team is planning on a different outcome this time around.

And the Hilltoppers clearly have the pieces in place to make that goal a reality.

The squad has posted the sixth-best score in the state this spring, with a score of 145.70 coming March 13 at the District 87 Invite.

“It’s a very good team,” Glenbard West coach Frank Novakowski said. “We had to work on the team aspect as far as having the veteran guys be good examples and leaders for the younger guys, and they have been and that’s really helping.”

Indeed, Glenbard West has a nice mix of athletes, with three freshmen joining the experienced group of six seniors and one junior.

All-arounder Perry Zumbrook leads the experienced core.

“That senior group were sophomores when we went to state two years ago and took fourth,” Novakowski said. “It’s a really great group, a special group. We are really counting on them to step up and be leaders and show the younger kids what we need to do to get to state again.”

The trio of freshmen, who all come in with club experience, is headlined by Max Diab, younger brother of Alex Diab, who captured the state individual all-around title in 2012 and is now concentrating on club gymnastics. Eric Samuta and Matthew Ideler are also beginning their high school careers.

“Anytime you can get three freshmen into your gym that already have a wealth of gymnastics experience,” the coach said, “that will be a boost to your program.

“We just missed qualifying for the state meet last year and that was without these guys. We didn’t have any gymnasts with club experience last year. We lost only three counting scores from the sectional meet last year, and adding these three guys was invaluable as far as the team experience goes.”

The West Suburban Silver conference, which placed three teams in the top eight in 2013, will once again be challenging. Lyons Township already has posted a score of 153, and Downers Grove North and Hinsdale Central also are talented.

“Anytime you can have really good competition, it makes guys step up their game,” Novakowski said. “Competing against those strong teams really helps our program.”

While challenging for the conference title is certainly a goal, this Glenbard West team has its sights set on something bigger.

“They are hungry and they want to [get to state],” Novakowski said. “And they don’t want to settle for fourth through eighth.

“They want a trophy and they are working hard to get there.”

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