GENEVA – Maintaining balance is a must in gymnastics. So is balancing priorities.
Veteran Geneva girls gymnastics coach Kim Hostman sought to bring Dominique Brognia around gradually in the vault, not wanting to over-extend the talented junior.
At the same time, with the critical postseason meets drawing near, there was some urgency to acclimate Brognia to her least comfortable event so that she could give the Vikings a second, formidable all-around competitor in addition to senior captain Ashley Puff.
Judging by Brognia’s breakout third-place finish in the all-around at sectionals – a key factor in the Vikings advancing as a team to this weekend’s IHSA state meet for the first time in program history – the pacing was handled just right.
Brognia had only been vaulting for a couple weeks leading up to sectionals.
“I was pretty patient with it, and Kim was, too,” Brognia said. “It was just taking it slow. I didn’t want to get hurt or anything, and once I got it down perfect, I was ready to go.”
Brognia’s performance at the Feb. 5 Glenbard West Sectional even surpassed Puff, who had somewhat of an off day and took fifth in the all-around. Puff wasn’t feeling well that day and found out Monday she has strep throat.
Puff has taken medication this week and hoped to feel better in time for the state meet today and Saturday in Palatine in what shapes up to be the Vikings standout’s final competitive meet.
“If not, I’ll still go out there and do my best, and see what I can do,” Puff said. “Hopefully I’ll have enough adrenaline to keep me going and get me through the meet.”
Brognia is in only her second year with the Vikings, having spent her freshman year competing with Aerial Gymnastics in Downers Grove. While Brognia entered Geneva’s program as a skilled gymnast – she’s trained since she was a little girl, eventually choosing gymnastics over dance – she said she was only “OK” at vault, and needed to retool her form, step by step.
The key threshold for Brognia was to master a pike vault that carries a high enough point total to make her a serious player in the all-around. She previously had performed the safer tuck but took what Hostman considered to be a risk by employing the pike at sectionals.
It was a success. With that barrier toppled, her skills in the other events made her a strong complement to the accomplished Puff atop the Vikings’ lineup.
“It was my goal to get her in the all-around by the end of the season,” Hostman said. “I knew she was capable of being a strong vaulter, it just took a little bit of time to get her there.”
Brognia credits close friend and former Vikings gymnast Delaney Wood for lobbying her to join the program.
At 5-foot-1, Brognia is one of the Vikings’ most compact gymnasts.
“I think it’s an advantage for me because it’s easier to get around,” Brognia said. “I just feel like it’s better than being taller.”
The Vikings had an anxiety-laden 48-hour wait before learning their score from the Glenbard West Sectional was sufficient to earn one of the at-large berths at the state tournament. Area rival St. Charles co-op won the sectional title to earn an automatic bid in the state field. Prairie Ridge and Lyons are among the favorites in this weekend’s team competition.
Hostman is the lone head coach in the 13-year history of Geneva’s program, and recalled at a practice earlier this week that there were only five girls on the team when the program debuted. This year, there were 25, she said.
“It started out slow, and midway through we got a lot more recognition,” Hostman said. “Here [the last few years], we’ve had some strong gymnasts, and each year our score has progressively increased. It’s been really fun seeing it grow from such a small program.”
Puff is proud to have played a role in the program reaching new heights.
“Knowing that in all the years that this program has run, that we’re the first team to make it to state, means a lot,” she said.