The future is already here for the area's girls gymnastics teams.
Freshmen and sophomores are helping lead Geneva and St. Charles co-op to their strongest seasons in years while Batavia is showing promise thanks to the arrival of a pair of high-scoring young teens.
Freshman Rachel Dugan has stepped right in and made a huge impact for St. Charles co-op. While Sidney Copeland and Kelly Gorniak have been the team's top scoring all-arounders, Dugan's been consistently in the mid 30s. In fact, she recorded a 35.8 in wins against Glenbard East and Batavia just before the holidays.
"She's obviously strong on all four events," St. Charles co-op coach Amy Lill said. "She's a hard worker with a good attitude and always wants to do what's best for the team. I think she's adjusted very well from club level to high school."
Depth has limited another freshman's contributions for St. Charles co-op, as Lill is utilizing Samantha Upshaw as a beam specialist.
"I bumped her down to JV so she could compete as an all-arounder," Lill said. "Our JV is scoring 126 and 127 which shows how much depth we have. A lot of our JV would be varsity on any other team."
Although not underclassmen, junior Cathryn Gotlund and senior Alix Scherer are newcomers who are filling in as high-scoring specialists for St. Charles co-op. Gotlund continues to shine on vault and Sherer focuses on floor.
St. Charles co-op posted a 144.5 against Batavia on Dec. 21. It bested the 145.275 it recorded in the Neuqua Valley sectional in 2008, a score that earned the team a trip to the state finals.
"I've never had a team score 144 this early in the season so I'm definitely excited about that," Lill said. "We didn't have our first meet until December so we're still working on upgrading our routines and adding new skills."
Geneva hasn't missed a beat this season and the addition of freshman McKenna Merges and sophomore Grace Ginsberg have been vital to the team's success. Furthermore, sophomore Megan Beitzel and juniors Dominique Brognia and Claire Scatterday have continued to progress alongside standout senior Ashley Puff.
"It's really nice to have a young team because Ashley and Jenna (Ginsberg) are the only seniors," Geneva coach Kim Hostman said. "It's going to be nice to see what the future holds for the rest of these girls."
Grace Ginsberg wasn't on the team last year, but is very pleased with her decision to join the squad this winter.
"It's been a lot of fun, especially to come to a team which already was really good," she said. "We're having a great time this year."
Batavia's lineup doesn't include any gymnasts with a driver's license yet. Senior Sarah Ganster has been sidelined with an injury and coach Taryn Boyce has employed a mixed lineup of three freshmen and three sophomores.
Meghan McGee, McKenna Sloan and Lauren Stangl began their high school careers just a few months ago. McGee and Stangl have been the team's top all-arounders. Stangl had a 36.05 and McGee followed with a 35.45 in the all-around during a loss to St. Charles co-op on Dec. 21.
Sophomores Kaitlyn Enger, Courtney Glassman and Kristi Zabka also give the Bulldogs plenty of reasons to be excited about the rest of this year, as well as upcoming seasons.
"This is a very good group of hard workers that push each other," Batavia coach Taryn Boyce said. "We had some very good (gymnasts) a couple years ago and these girls are definitely above the rest. They're a lot of fun to coach and they want to keep getting better as a team."
Ganster has received medical clearance. Boyce is hopeful that Ganster could compete at a quad at Oswego on Jan. 16.
St. Charles co-op heads to the Lake Forest Invite on Saturday while Geneva travels to the Lincoln-Way East Invite. The teams will square off in a highly anticipated meet on Jan. 9 at Geneva.