Glenbard West has so much depth this season that it had scored well even without senior Becky Mladucky an all-arounder.
On Dec. 28, the returning all-stater competed all four events for the first time this season and that helped the Hilltoppers score 144.075 points and win the Panther Invitational at Oswego for the first time. DeKalb, competing for the first time as a team, was second (139.70) with Stevenson (135.55) third.
What’s scary is that the Hilltoppers should continue to score higher as the season progresses.
“Kind of the plan from the beginning of the year was to slowly pace ourselves to get where we need to. Six of the eight kids are juniors and seniors so we feel we have all of the experience,” Glenbard West coach Carlos Fuentes said.
“We’re getting close to putting in our full lineup. It’s kind of been slowly but surely. We’ve put a 144 (score) a couple of times now. We counted a few falls today still so we still have a little bit more room to grow. We’re kind of right on track.”
Mladucky, seniors Shannon Dietz and Megan Brennan and juniors Missy Guzman and Nicole Pagor, combined for 11 top-10 finishes. Junior Shauna Gialluisi, who had two top-15 finishes, sophomore Abbie Garchitorena and freshman Maggie Phillips also were part of the lineup.
Mladucky, who has been competing on the uneven parallel bars and balance beam, was fourth in all-around (36.55) , her first all-around effort since the 2010 state meet, when the Hilltoppers finished fifth.
Mladucky was second on uneven bars (9.4) to DeKalb senior Jessica Morreale (9.6) and second on beam (9.25) to DeKalb junior Alyssa Lopez (9.425).
“(Mladucky’s) back is feeling a lot better and she’s trying to get in there,” Guzman said. “Right now we have all of the routines. We’re hitting them and stuff. We’re just trying to clean it up, make sure we get all of the tenths out of our routines.”
Guzman was second on floor (9.55) to St. Edward’s Abby Madden (9.55), third on beam (9.2) and fourth on uneven bars (9.05), Pagor was fifth on floor (9.175) and tied for sixth on vault (9.3) and Dietz was fifth on uneven bars (9.025).
Guzman is working her way back to all-around after injuring her toes and head during her uneven bars dismount against Lyons Township Jan. 8. Scheduled to be an all-arounder that night, Guzman then scratched from vault and beam.
“I went back in the gym the next day, did quite a few doubles after that (on uneven bars) and they’re good now, actually. I feel like they’re better than ever,” Guzman said. “My vaults have been feeling a lot better during practice and (Fuentes) said they’re getting there.”
Guzman is just part of a determined lineup trying to earn the program’s first state trophy. The Hilltoppers’ lone all-arounder at last year’s sectional, Guzman badly sprained her ankle the Monday before state but still competed on floor and uneven bars at state with Mladucky taking her all-around spot for the team.
Guzman even managed to join Mladucky in the individual floor event finals, where they finished ninth and 10th, respectively.
“I was surprised I made it to finals,” Guzman said. “I was surprised actually I was even able to compete floor, but I really was just icing it and trying not to do too much on it until I had to.”
When everything clicks for the Hilltoppers, look out.
“Even the misses we have, we feel that we can go over a 9.0 on every single event with every single kid,” Fuentes said. “Our goal is to be above 9.0 on everything and obviously a couple of kids that’ll go a little higher than that. We’re still in the running. We’re lying in the weeds a little. But we’re still there.”