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Young Batavia gymnastics encouraged after loss to Geneva

Jeff Krage ñ For Shaw Media
Batavia's Megan McGee competes on the floor exercise during Wednesday's gymnastics meet at Geneva.
Geneva 1/8/14
Jeff Krage ñ For Shaw Media Batavia's Megan McGee competes on the floor exercise during Wednesday's gymnastics meet at Geneva. Geneva 1/8/14

GENEVA – Batavia gymnastics coach Taryn Boyce promised her athletes a pizza party if they scored at least 135 points in Wednesday’s Upstate Eight Conference dual at Geneva.

Visions of deep dish surely danced in the Bulldogs’ heads as Geneva coach Kim Hostman announced Batavia’s 135.1, a mark that still trailed the host Vikings’ 140.2 but nonetheless secured a few pieces of pie.

That was, until, fuzzy math on the Bulldogs’ beam score brought their total team aggregate to a 128.45.

Although the checker-top tables suddenly turned, Batavia still left for home with positive food for thought: whatever way you sliced it, the Bulldogs performed better than they have been recently.

“We hang out outside the gym, and I just kind of feel this is one of our more close-knit groups that we’ve had in a while,” junior Courtney Glassman said. “So it’s really encouraging.”

Geneva worked with a short-handed lineup, as junior Grace Ginsberg (sinus infection) competed only in the vault.

Vikings freshman Claire Ginsberg registered the top score with a 37 in the all-around, edging senior Dominique Brognia (35) and junior Megan Beitzel (33.5).

For Batavia, sophomore Megan McGee was part of a three-way tie for second with an 8.6 in the vault. Freshman Cameron Hindel had the next-highest score in the vault with an 8.15, continuing a solid debut for Bulldogs newcomers on a team ripe with juniors.

“The freshmen fit in really well with the group of girls that were already here,” Glassman said. “Of course, we miss our seniors, but it’s kind of interesting not having very many seniors.”

While this week’s hazardous wind chills altered gymnasts’ routines, it didn’t fully keep them from training.

Batavia practiced Monday afternoon at Geneva-based Excel Gymnastics Academy before enjoying what junior Kristi Zabka called “just kind of a rest day” Tuesday. It was, in a manner of speaking, as Zabka still dragged her mini balance beam to the side of the family room, ostensibly spicing up the monotony of daytime TV.

Given the OK from athletic director Jim Kafer, Geneva returned to its own den by way of the school halls once temperatures climbed higher than zero Tuesday afternoon.

That must have taken some doing, getting acclimated to a chilly practice room, right?

“It was actually warmer than it usually is,” Hostman said, “so it was good.”

The anomaly makes sense for a team that progressively is heating up down the stretch of the regular season. Geneva captured the 12-team Illinois’ Best Invitational title Dec. 21 at Wheaton Warrenville South before winning Oswego’s 12-team Panther Invite a week later.

Geneva eclipsed its previous season-high team score of 142.225 with a 144.4 at Oswego, but the Vikings insist they aren’t through climbing. A returning state qualifier, Geneva won its sectional with a 146.275 last winter.

Hostman installed a handful of new techniques during winter break, and the program is eager to see where it stands with upcoming invites at Lincoln-Way East (Saturday) and Niles North (Jan. 18) bookending Monday’s senior recognition dual against the visiting St. Charles co-op.

“Connections are a big thing. Just upgrading our connections,” Hostman said. “Hopefully, we’ll keep progressing from the 144 up.”

For Batavia, 144 would be a dream. Right now, a standard about 10 points less than that sounds good enough before the Bulldogs eye a takeoff in 2014-15.

“We’ve had some issues, but I mean, everyone does,” Glassman said. “It’s just kind of been a really good season in all, so far.”

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