Gymnastics: Glenbard West wins eighth straight West Suburban Silver meet

Glenbard West senior Sammy Hopper

Senior Sammy Hopper and her Glenbard West girls gymnastics teammates appeared set for another great season with seven returnees from their 2022 fourth-place state lineup.

Then two gymnasts did not return. Injured senior Brooklyn Ford eventually underwent season-ending right knee ACL surgery Dec. 16. Then sophomore all-arounder Grace Flint broke her leg competing in floor exercise at the Naperville North Invite on Jan. 7.

“We were all upset when it happened and we were going to really miss not only the scores but having her in the gym with us every day,” Hopper said. “Everyone’s trying as hard as they can and everyone just has the same job. Knowing that, we just give it all we have.”

Down to five all-arounders, the Hilltoppers somehow, someway still are in position to reach the eight-team state meet.

Jan. 28 was business as usual in securing an unprecedented eighth straight West Suburban Conference Silver overall title by winning the Silver meet at York with 143.1 points.

Hopper, who had four top-five all-conference medals as a junior, earned her first four Silver titles.

Hopper won all-around with a 37 that included firsts on vault (9.2), floor (9.725) and balance beam (8.975).

Senior Skylar Oh won uneven parallel bars (9.4) for her fourth Silver championship. Senior Autumn White, sophomore Leah Chapski and freshman Mackenzie Mason had top-five finishes.

“I was really happy with the team’s performance, especially going into postseason,” Hopper said. “I had a little bit of a rocky start [on vault] so I was making up for it on the rest of the events and getting a 9.7 on floor never hurts.”

Hinsdale Central (134.425) pulled out second over Lyons Township and Oak Park-River Forest (134.15). York (126.375) was fifth.

Hopper, Oh (36.825) and White (34.65) were 1-2-3 in all-around. Mason and Chapski were seventh and eighth, respectively.

In 2022, Hopper and Oh were state event finalists and White was an individual state qualifier. Although Flint is missed, the Hilltoppers scored a season-best 144.15 on Jan. 21 and had their third-highest score Jan. 28.

“Am I surprised? No. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not impressed and really proud of them,” Glenbard West coach Carlos Fuentes said. “It’s in their DNA being a Hilltopper to work that hard and never give up and keep pushing forward. The resilience is one that I haven’t had to see before because we’ve never had this many losses. They’re really making a statement that they want to continue to move on through the state series.”

Hopper won vault. Oh shared third (9.15). On floor, White (9.3), Oh (9.55) and Hopper finished 3-2-1 with the final three routines. Mason was fifth (8.95). On beam, Hopper usually is the first of the five Hilltoppers to perform. Oh was third (8.725).

“It’s the only event I like to go first on because I like to get it over with, but I also think if I make a good routine that sets up the rest of the team,” Hopper said.

Oh is a four-time all-conference floor performer who won last year’s title (9.3). Her Jan. 28 uneven bars title came after scratching the event at last year’s Silver Meet to protect an elbow injury. Hopper (9.1) was second and Chapski tied for fifth (8.675).

“To come back and win [bars] was really rewarding and I’m really happy,” Oh said. “I’m just really grateful that I was able to compete [in bars]. It’s my favorite event. I just wanted to get that good score for the team.”

Hinsdale Central junior Hazel Hamelka was second on vault (9.175), senior Audrey Austin was fourth on floor (9.125) and tied for fifth on uneven bars (8.675) and junior Elena Koulouris was fourth on beam (8.7).

Austin missed the 2022 meet.

“It felt like a really good [floor] routine so I’m just proud of doing it,” Austin said.

York sophomore Hayley Schiltz was fifth on beam (8.65).

“It feels pretty great. Beam is my favorite event so I’m really happy,” Schiltz said.

Lyons sophomore Emmy Bertucci’s second-place, season-high 8.875 on beam led to fifth in all-around (34.05). Junior Emily Tucker was third on uneven bars (8.8).

“[I’m hoarse] because I’ve been cheering too much. Beam was the highlight,” Bertucci said.