Geneva's coaching staff joked with their gymnasts about bringing home a ship during Saturday's Upstate Eight Conference girls gymnastics meet in Roselle.
Not a Vikings ship -- like some of Geneva's JV gymnasts wondered -- but a championship.
There was no joking in the gym though as Geneva established a school-record 144.725 to win Saturday's meet. The Vikings also earned a share of the conference title with runner-up Waubonsie Valley/Metea Valley co-op, which posted a 140.75.
The Vikings easily shattered the 142.125 they scored at the conference meet last season, finishing with the top team score on vault, bars and beam.
"In every event at every meet this year we've had two or three kids make a major mistake," Geneva coach Kim Hostman said. "I've known what they've been capable of and today was finally their day. We didn't have any major mistakes and only had one fall on beam we had to count."
Geneva's previous season high was 139.35, so the Vikings leapt more than five points past it.
"I've told them all season if we can all hit together we'll get well over 140," Hostman said. "I've been preaching that all year. They're really strong gymnasts and did a fantastic job today."
None did a better job than junior Ashley Puff. She won vault, beam and floor while also claiming top honors in the all-around with a 37.05. Haley Carroll claimed fourth in the all-around with a 35.5, but it still took several other contributions.
Six additional Geneva gymnasts had crucial scores that placed each of them in the top 10 in conference. There were newcomers Dominique Brognia tying for second on bars with a 9.2 and Megan Beitzel tying for third on vault with a 9.3.
Veteran Kaitlyn Kanrowski shared third place on beam with an 8.85. The Vikings also received an 8.8 on beam from Claire Scatterday, Jenna Ginsberg's 9.2 on vault, Delaney Wood's 8.9 on bars and an even 9 on floor from Alexis Graham.
"It's nice to have so much depth to pull from and they hit and showed that we deserve to be right there," Hostman said. "I knew they had the potential because they've been adding tricks all season."
Still, such great success still came as a bit of a surprise.
"We've been working very hard at practice, but I had no idea we could do this," Carroll said. "There was this energy on vault and it was just awesome."
Perhaps a bit overshadowed by Geneva were the season-best scores by Waubonsie/Metea and third-place Lake Park, which finished with a 139.25.
"We had our highest floor and bars scores today too, even with a few errors," Waubonsie/Metea coach Nicole Daly said. "We still have to work on beam but we have a lot to be excited about for regional."
Elizabeth Brandbenburg took second place in the all-around with a 36.7 and Jess Malon won bars with a 9.45 to lead Waubonsie/Metea.
Hard work on perfecting their floor exercise routines certainly paid dividends for the Lancers. They won the event with a 37.05. Jessica Lewis tied for second with a 9.55 and Kayla Goodwin, who hadn't competed on floor since December because of an injury, was fourth with a 9.5.
"Getting a career best like that at a meet like this felt amazing," Lewis said. "We were all vert solid today, so it was really good to be rewarded with a team high."
Injuries were a factor with the lineup St. Charles co-op coach Amy Lill was able to use. Still, St. Charles was able to snag fourth place with a 136.05 and Kaylee Arnold tied for second on bars with a 9.2.
"I thought my girls went out and did the best they could," Lill said. "The girls stepped up and rose to the challenge so I was proud with how they did."
Neuqua Valley had a rough start and was buried in fifth place with a 134.675.
"Beam was a wreck," Neuqua Valley coach JoAnn Pschigoda said. "I think our focus wasn't there in the first event, but I was really impressed with how we came back and rallied."
Riley Wypiszenski and Isis Ruff finished 7-8 in the all-around to pace the Wildcats.
Batavia's Lily Garcia set personal record with an 8.8 for the Bulldogs who placed sixth with a 126.25.
"The positives were Lily's floor routine and Meggan (Hagemann) and Sarah's (Ganster) vaults," Batavia coach Taryn Boyce said. "We're young and not used to this kind of competition yet but they have so much potential."
Alyssa Konkel placed fifth in the all-around with a 35.2 to lead Bartlett/South Elgin/Streamwood co-op to a 124.8.