GENEVA – Grace Loberg is a foot taller than Clare Ginsberg.
Their respective athletic feats for Geneva High School are equally impressive.
The two Geneva seniors were recognized along with many others during a championship celebration at the high school March 8.
Geneva celebrated the girls basketball team’s Class 4A state title, the dance team winning an unprecedented fourth straight state title in January, and Ginsberg being named all-state while placing in three events and taking third in the all-around at the state finals in February. Ginsberg also won the all-around title as a freshman and led the team to second place in the state in 2015.
“What a great year we’re having here at Geneva,” Vikings athletic director Dave Carli said. “From the start of fall with the boys golf team, the boys and girls cross country teams going downstate, the dance team as a four-time state champ, Claire [Ginsberg] with four outstanding years, and now the girls basketball team.
“It’s just been a great year, and you know what? We’re not satisfied yet. We still have the spring to go.”
Principal Tom Rogers said the girls are more than amazing athletes – they also are champions on and off the playing field.
“These trophies and the medals are incredible, but as the principal of Geneva High School, I am so thrilled to be standing here talking about top-notch young ladies,” he said. “They do a great job every day in living their lives and doing the right things and making the community at Geneva proud.”
Dance team coach Amy VanWagenen believes she’s blessed to coach a great group of kids.
“They’re the coolest group of kids I could ever have,” she said. “They’re so kind, so responsible and so hardworking. To be state champs four years in a row means a lot, and to think that this team had no seniors. Hopefully they’ll all be back next year.”
Sophomore dancer Katie Wagner said winning the state title still hasn’t sunk in yet.
“It’s still an unreal feeling,” she said. “Every time that I think that we won, it doesn’t feel real. I don’t know how to explain it.”
Junior dancer Triana Lee feels the same way.
“It’s amazing, and to be here is amazing,” she said. “I’m so blessed to be a part of this. It’s so cool and our coach is the best. She’s so amazing. She motivates us and pushes us to the limits. We wouldn’t be here today if not for her.”
It was the first time in school history that the Vikings won two state championships in the same school year, let alone in the same season just weeks apart. That certainly impressed Mark Grosso, the school board president.
“This fall I thought nothing could top the Chicago Cubs, but I think we just did that [March 4],” he said. “Great job ladies.”
Loberg, who will play volleyball at Wisconsin, had a lot to do with that successful March weekend, scoring 29 points, snagging 17 rebounds and getting five steals in wins against Fremd and Edwardsville in Normal.
“This was super cool of the school to do this for all of us,” Loberg said. “They came up with the idea of having us together and we’re all friends here so it was fun to be able to celebrate together with our parents and other people in the stands. It was very thoughtful.”
Loberg doesn’t want the celebrating to end, though.
“I just had the best weekend of my life [at state],” she said. “I’m still floating and we’re still celebrating. I’ve been watching the videos of the game every night. It’s so awesome.”
Now, she can focus on finishing her studies – which certainly will be less thrilling – before graduating along with teammates Emily Uplegger, Kyla Chenier and Emma Harkleroad, as well as Ginsberg.
“Grace and I played club soccer together for about eight years and now we’re both leaving Geneva as state champs,” Ginsberg said. “It’s amazing how this all ended. I had a great state finals weekend, which was great, and then to watch the girls win the state title was amazing. I couldn’t have asked for a better ending.”