WHEATON – Geneva girls gymnasts crouched to their knees Tuesday night as the public address announcer read the team results of the Wheaton Warrenville South Sectional.
Apart from the floor exercise, it was about the only time anything other than the Vikings’ feet hit the floor.
Geneva won the program’s first sectional with a 146.525 and advanced to the Feb. 21 through 22 state meet at Palatine for the second consecutive season behind another sound and consistent effort that has become the norm.
“We pretty much hit everything,” Geneva senior Dominique Brognia said. “We had no falls, so I mean, that was great for us. That’s what we wanted to do. We pretty much focus on sticking our landings, because that pretty much will come down to it at the end. It was great. We’re all so happy for it.”
Vikings freshman Claire Ginsberg captured the all-around title with a 37.9, edging Brognia (36.8).
Rachel Dugan of the St. Charles co-op (36.55) took the fifth and final state qualifying spot.
St. Charles finished second in the team race with a 143.15 and now needs help for a possible state berth. The co-op’s fate rests in the results of the state’s two remaining sectionals, tonight at Hinsdale Central and Thursday at Niles North.
The four teams with the highest scores among nonsectional winners advance to state as at-large entries. So far, St. Charles trails Fremd (147.675) and Barrington (143.675), which both competed in Monday’s Conant Sectional.
“It could be worse,” St. Charles coach Amy Lill said. “We’re just going to have to take it from there. We have to wait it out.”
Some St. Charles athletes need not sweat as much, having already advanced as individuals.
Dugan tied Brognia for fifth in the vault with a 9.35 and placed second in the bars (9.25). Kelly Gorniak took third in the floor with a 9.425.
Ginsberg won the vault (9.5), bars (9.55) and floor (9.7).
Her older sister, Grace, a junior, was fourth in the bar and fifth in the floor, among Geneva’s other top individual accomplishments.
Geneva and St. Charles dueled for the Upstate Eight Conference title less than two weeks ago, with the Vikings scoring a program-record 149.150 to defeat runner-up St. Charles (144.625) and the rest of the six-team field at Neuqua Valley.
Competing in the cozy comfort of their Mack Olson gym in mid-January, the Vikings defeated St. Charles, 146.2 to 142.5, in a UEC dual.
At the time, the score represented a season-best for Geneva, five-hundredths of a point better than their previous 2013-14 standard set a few days before at the Lincoln-Way East Invitational.
Adding skills gradually while maintaining their confidence, the Vikings kept their eyes fixed forward, waited for their cue and continued to build. There was hardly any panic when St. Charles took a slight lead at the end of two rotations Tuesday, as the Vikings had the floor and vault on deck.
“We knew we had our two strongest events coming up,” Claire Ginsberg said, “so I think we knew that we could pull through.”
Only three teams in the sectional eclipsed a 140 team score in regionals. Geneva paced the field with a 147.25, and was followed by St. Charles (147) and the Wheaton Warrenville co-op (141.575).
Over the weekend, Lill stressed the importance of keeping an even keel, telling gymnasts they only could focus on themselves – there was no controlling Geneva.
St. Charles finished with the beam, and Lill said she counted 2.5 points the team left on the apparatus as slight mistakes fell “like a domino.”
Individually, 12 athletes from each event and the all-around who did not advance from sectionals will be at-large qualifiers. Batavia sophomore all-arounder Megan McGee finished 20th.
“She had a pretty solid meet,” Bulldogs coach Taryn Boyce said.
Batavia freshman Cameron Hindel competed in the vault and placed 20th.
While Bulldogs are touting a breakthrough next season, Geneva knows its time is now – and, ideally, in 10 days.
“We’ll keep doing routines, lots of repetitions,” Claire Ginsberg said. “We’ll keep doing what we’ve done before to get ready for state.”