Glenbard West senior Joey Mandarino is well aware of the history of gymnastics at his school.
Rather than be intimidated by such greatness, he and his teammates have embraced it and have worked hard to become a team that can be recognized as one of the all-time bests in Glen Ellyn.
The Hilltoppers were at their best during Saturday night's Glenbard West sectional, rolling to a convincing victory with 155.2 points, easily surpassing runner-up Downers Grove South's 143.2.
"We've been telling them for the last two weeks that they're a team that can do this," Glenbard West coach Frank Novakowski said. "I told them they can be a really great team and they hit. We had a couple bobbles, but for the most part they really hit and looked great."
Mandarino took second on still rings with a 9.5 while freshman teammate Alex Diab won the event with a 9.55. The Hilltoppers also counted a 9.05 from Perry Zumbrook on the event to total 28 points, nearly eclipsing the school record of 28.15.
"That's a pretty insane score," Mandarino said. "That's big. To come that close to the greatest in school history, wow. I personally look up to those people and strive to achieve those scores."
Diab put together the biggest scores, winning the all-around with a 53.2. He also won parallel bars with an 8.85, floor with a 9.45 and tied Zumbrook for top honors on vault with a 9.5.
"I felt very good out there tonight and we all did great," Diab said. "This was our next step. Now we're hoping to go there (state) and get a trophy. That's basically it."
Fellow freshman Eric Samuta also came up big for the Hilltoppers, scoring a 9.1 on floor, 7.95 on pommel horse and 7.65 high bar. Tommy Berland added an 8.2 on still rings.
"When one person misses a set here, we always have the next guy to pick him up," Zumbrook said. "We only had a few times where we had to do that tonight. It was a great moment for us. We had a great meet."
Downers Grove South also had a great meet -- and a historic one -- as the Mustangs secured a team at-large qualifier and advanced to state for the first time in program history.
"I got lucky enough to get a couple kids in here with a lot of skill," Mustangs coach Bill Norris said. "They kept working it and despite some injuries and illnesses that had our scores going up and down for most of the season, they were able to put most of it together tonight."
Freshman Dominic Tommasone led the Mustangs, taking second in the all-around with a 51.9. He won high bar with a 9.15.
Glenbard South senior Eugene Boguslavsky finished third in the all-around with a 50.6 to punch his ticket to state. His best score was a 9.1 on floor.
"Ever since freshman year it seems like I get one more event to go in and to go in everything this year is just crazy," he said. "Tonight's a special moment for me, but it's not about these medals, it's about my teammates. Everyone tries so hard and has great team spirit. I couldn't have done it without them."
Willowbrook's Keawe Winstead won pommel horse with an 8.65.
Downers Grove North, which is used to advancing to state as a team, didn't make it this year, but Strah Sopcic advanced on parallel bars with an 8.5, still rings with an 8.45 and pommel horse with an 8.25, while teammate Thomas Brethauer was third on still rings with a 9.3.
Fenton's Oscar Garza was third on vault with a 9.25 while Addison Trail's Marcus Rias was fifth on vault with a 9.05 and Marco Martinez placed third on high bar with a 7.7.