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Druley: Geneva dance team triumphant at state finals

Geneva’s competitive dancing team seized an IHSA Class 2A state championship at U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington over the weekend.

While the Vikings needed just four minutes, 30 seconds – the rough combined length of a preliminary and finals routine – to achieve glory, don’t let that convince you any of this was easy.

“Winning state was not luck and it wasn’t just something that happened,” Geneva coach Amy VanWagenen said. “It’s come from working very, very hard from the start of our season in June all the way up until now.”

Performing a jazz routine to the Delta Rae song “Bottom of the River,” Geneva vaulted to the top by virtue of its consistency. No other 2A team defeated the Vikings when they used “Bottom of the River” this season.

Geneva scored a season-high 92.38 Saturday – 100 is the maximum combined score from six judges – to edge Vernon Hills (91.74).

The tightness VanWagenen observed backstage before Friday’s prelims vanished by the time the finals rolled around. Knowing the worst-case scenario still meant a 10th-place state finish in the second year of an IHSA-affiliated state series, the Vikings put together a sound routine one last time.

“At that point, they just wanted to go perform for themselves, perform for each other, and they did it,” VanWagenen said.

On Monday, the 18-member team paraded through the school halls along with VanWagenen, a four-year dance team member at Iowa State who also is a veteran coach through the Universal Dance Association.

Also a substitute teacher in Geneva District 304, VanWagenen suspects she’ll give “Bottom of the River” a few more listens between now and next season. Maybe it’s the title talking, but she doesn’t mind having the song stuck in her head.

“No, I love it. I mean, I’m probably not going to listen to it as much as I have been the past few months, but if it came on, I wouldn’t turn it off,” VanWagenen said. “It causes a good memory.”

Moving up: Kenny Socorro, the Kane County Cougars’ fourth coach in 2013 who was activated for spot bullpen duty down the stretch, has been promoted to the parent Cubs’ front office. There’ll be no time for throwing as Socorro assumed the duty of player development/international scouting assistant.

“No, hopefully not,” Socorro said. “That took a toll on my arm.”

Socorro, 24, attended scouting school during the offseason in a bid to stay in baseball.

Drafted by the Cubs as a shortstop in the 44th round in 2011, he encountered injuries early in his career but proved a good asset to Cougars manager Mark Johnson, who then was guiding Short-A Boise. The bilingual Socorro showed an early knack for coaching.

Johnson and hitting coach Tom Beyers will return for the 2014 season, but the club is bringing in a new pitching coach, David Rosario.

• Kevin Druley is a sportswriter for the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5347 or Follow him on Twitter at @kevindruley.

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