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updated: 11/19/2012 7:01 PM

Scouting Tri-Cities girls gymnastics

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  • Ashley Puff, pictured on the floor exercise at the state meet, returns as the captain in her senior year at Geneva.

      Ashley Puff, pictured on the floor exercise at the state meet, returns as the captain in her senior year at Geneva.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

By Chris Walker
Daily Herald Correspondent


Coach: Taryn Boyce (9th year)

Top returnees: Sarah Ganster (Sr., all-around), Mandy Stangl (Sr., beam), Kristi Zabka (So., all-around)

Key newcomers: Meghan McGee (Fr., all-around), Lauren Stangl (Fr., all-around)

Outlook: First, the good news for the Bulldogs. The team welcomes freshmen Meghan McGee and Lauren Stangl, two talented newcomers who could just be beginning long, great high school careers. McGee is coming off a great deal of success as a leader of the Batavia Park District Flippers team while Stangl is a Level 8 gymnast. More good news for the Bulldogs comes in the form of its new venue. No longer will the Bulldogs be limited to little practice time at the park district. They've transferred to Excel on Randall Road in Geneva. "It's a big help to have more time and space to practice," coach Taryn Boyce said. "Now we could possibly even host conference one of these years." And, now for the bad news. Standout Sarah Ganster is back, but will be sidelined for 6-to-8 weeks with a broken foot. Senior specialist Mandy Stangl, Lauren's sister, still hasn't recovered from a concussion last season, and might be unable to compete. The team also lost senior Lily Garcia, who has opted to be a cheerleader, lost Meggan Hagemann and Nikki Flesvig to graduation, as well as sophomore Kaylin Clevenger. It appears that Clevenger will return to the team next year as she's committed to reaching Level 9 status via club competition. "It's pretty much an entire team of freshmen and sophomores," Boyce said. "So we'll have a very young team, but one with a decent background so we should be good for the next couple of years." Sophomore Courtney Glassman also returns and will need to fill in some of the open spots in certain events and some others might have to step up, especially while Ganster is rehabilitating.


Coach: Kim Hostman (14th year)

Top returnees: Megan Beitzel (So., bars, vault), Dominique Brognia (Jr., all-around), Jenna Ginsberg (Sr., vault, bars), Ashley Puff (Sr., all-around), Claire Scatterday (Jr., all-around)

Key newcomers: Grace Ginsberg (So., all-around), McKenna Merges (Fr., all-around)

Outlook: Geneva finished last season strong and has just about all of its key gymnasts back this season. The team's only considerable loss was Haley Carroll who has defected to bowling. Senior Ashley Puff will look to lead the Vikings both from a skill standpoint and in a captain role. She's been an integral part to the team's record-breaking success the past two years and will look to do the same again. "She's really stepped up and gotten the team together," Geneva coach Kim Hostman said. "I think it was tough for the whole group to lose Haley, but she's kept them together and already done a lot of team building." Look for Puff to push herself further this year. She'll still be doing doubles consistently on floor, but has added some new skills on bars and beam, as well. The Vikings remain a relatively young team as Jenna Ginsberg is the team's only other senior. They also welcome two talented newcomers in Jenna's sophomore sister Grace Ginsberg and freshman McKenna Merges. Both are capable all-rounders and will allow Hostman to mix and match the lineup to achieve optimum team scores in all four events. "I think we'll do fine," Hostman said. "It was concerning to me when Haley decided not to come back, but we've got all the other girls back and the two newcomers are really strong gymnasts." Geneva established a school-record 144.75 during the UEC meet last year.

St. Charles co-op

Coach: Amy Lill (6th year)

Top returnees: Sidney Copeland (Jr., all-around), Jesi Ortiz (Sr., vault, floor), Andrea Schwartz (Sr., all-around), Sydney Olson (Sr. vault, bars, floor), Sierra Thiesse (Jr. bars, floor), Kelly Gorniak (Jr. all-around),

Key newcomers: Rachel Dugan (Fr. all-around), Cathryn Gotlund (Jr. vault, beam), Alix Scherer (Sr. vault, beam, bars), Samantha Upshaw (fr. all-around)

Outlook: Gymnasts have to battle through pain all of the time. There's no debating that. But there are also those injuries that either force a gymnast to water down their routine or sit on the sideline cheering on their teammates. St. Charles competed with its teeth clenched quite a bit last year, and is hopeful that they can avoid the injury bug enough so that its true talent comes through. The team lost Kaylee Arnold, Kathryn Doody and Kristen Sheehan to graduation, but welcome back junior Kelly Gorniak, an all-around sectional qualifier, and senior Jesi Ortiz, who advanced to state in the floor exercise last February. "We have a nice mixture of a strong group of returning gymnasts along with new talented gymnasts," coach Amy Lill said. "This year we will have tremendous depth on all four events." Senior Andrea Schwartz returns as an all-rounder and fellow senior Sydney Olson, who competes on everything save for beam, is also back. Junior all-rounder Sidney Copeland and two-event specialist Sierra Thiesse are also back in the mix. What could make this year a special one for St. Charles is if some of the newcomers can post big scores. The team had a 138.3 in regional competition last year and should have more than enough talent to push into the low 140s. Keep an eye out especially for freshman Rachel Dugan, as well as the three other newcomers.

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