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Sports

Gymnastics: Glenbard West's Maddie Diab joins family tradition at Iowa State

Hilltoppers' 2016 all-around state champion follows in her dad's footsteps

Glenbard West's Maddie Diab performs on the uneven bars Feb. 17 during the state prelims at Palatine High School. Diab overcame an injury in the prelims to tie for the state title in the event.
Glenbard West's Maddie Diab performs on the uneven bars Feb. 17 during the state prelims at Palatine High School. Diab overcame an injury in the prelims to tie for the state title in the event.

Glenbard West junior Maddie Diab's first taste of college gymnastics recruiting was as a spectator, through older brothers Alex and Max.

“It was kind of fun to get to visit all of those schools, getting to see all of the teams,” Diab said. “I think I was like in eighth grade. My brothers were going through the process and I kind of realized that was something I wanted to do.”

Diab’s recruitment turned out to be more similar to her father’s. This month, the only IHSA state champion in Glenbard West girls gymnastics history made a verbal commitment to Iowa State. Her father, Mark, was a two-time NCAA men’s gymnastics national champion on still rings for the Cyclones in 1985-86.

“I think [he was] a little influence because when I was little I knew he went there and I always thought it would be cool go to the same school,” said Diab, the state's all-around champion in 2016.

Diab visited the Ames, Iowa campus a few times growing up. Mark was inducted into the Iowa State Athletics Hall of Fame in 2016. This summer, Diab attended a gymnastics camp there before making her official visit in September. Diab took her other four official visits.

“They have a really good program and the coaches and team were really nice. I could tell that I would be able to fit in,” Diab said. “[Recruiting was] a little overwhelming at first, but I’m glad it’s over. I’m glad that I made the decision.”

Diab won or shared state championships in all-around, vault and balance beam in 2016 and on the uneven parallel bars in 2017. She also was second on vault and third in all-around last season. Her six top-five all-state medals are two more than anyone else in Glenbard West program history.

Like most top gymnasts, Diab also competes club.

On Nov. 18, she qualified for the USA Gymnastics Level 10 state meet competing for Premier Gymnastics, which is owned by Mark. Alex, the 2012 IHSA all-around champion, and Max currently are teammates at Illinois.

“I think [high school gymnastics] gives me more of a chance of competing, the pressure of competing in meets, and competing for a team. I feel like it’s definitely helped,” Diab said.

Diab is completely healthy after battling a preseason back injury as a sophomore. Diab hopes the Hilltoppers achieve a state team berth for an unprecedented third consecutive season and challenge for their first top-three state trophy. New to the team is freshman sister Anna, who qualified for Level 9 state.

“The team’s looking great. We’ve been working really hard these past couple of weeks we’ve been in season,” Diab said. “[At Iowa State], I want to compete for the team and just kind of have fun. Before routines, I just say it’s supposed to be fun. It relaxes me and I kind of just go out and do routines like I do in practice.”

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