Glenbard West Climbs to Top of the Hill Hilltoppers Take No. 1 Ranking in Stride Heading into State Gym Meet

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Byline: Ken Tillotson Daily Herald Correspondent

Outcomes rarely have been in doubt for the Glenbard West boys gymnastics team this season - except when it came to he seemingly simple matter of selecting a team captain.

"When we counted the ballots, everybody picked everybody else. Nobody received more than two votes," said Hilltoppers junior Teddy Holub. "My first two years people were looking out more for themselves, but this year we realized early on how much further we could go as a team."

"No one person on the team is considered more important than anyone else, so we decided not to name an official captain this year," said sophomore Josh Levin, who continued by referencing a poem titled, The Wall, posted in the middle of the team's crowded bulletin board. "In the wall, every brick is important. If one brick falls out, then the rest of the wall isn't as strong."

Opponents huffed and puffed in vain all season trying to topple their formidable structure. The Hilltoppers rolled to a school record 160.20 in capturing their first outright West Suburban Silver Conference title, then followed with an easy regional victory and first-ever sectional title last Friday at Downers Grove North, recording a state-best 156.75.

After finishing second to two-time defending state champion Hinsdale Central last year, the Hilltoppers now find the roles reversed. They stand on the threshold of collecting their first state championship and the school's first state title in any sport since 1983 in this weekend's 39th boys State Gymnastics Meet at Forest View Educational Center in Arlington Heights.

"We talked a lot about how to handle all the attention at the beginning of the season and I think the guys have the right perspective on it - even though they have felt the pressure," said Hilltoppers sixth-year head coach Steve Kafka. "Every time the team has gotten into an intense competition, they've risen to the challenge. That impresses me."

Levin, the defending state pommel horse champion and favorite to win this year's all-around, clearly displayed his commitment to his teammates by opting to compete in high school this season rather than continuing individual club workouts in preparation for nationals, which also takes place this weekend. …