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updated: 1/23/2013 9:47 PM

Geneva celebrates its seniors

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  • Geneva's Dominque Brognia performs her beam routine on Wednesday, January 23.

       Geneva's Dominque Brognia performs her beam routine on Wednesday, January 23.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

  • Geneva's Ashley Puff performs her bars routine on Wednesday.

       Geneva's Ashley Puff performs her bars routine on Wednesday.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

  • Geneva's Grace Ginsberg performs her floor routine on Wednesday, January 23.

       Geneva's Grace Ginsberg performs her floor routine on Wednesday, January 23.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

  • Geneva's Dominque Brognia performs her bars routine on Wednesday, January 23.

       Geneva's Dominque Brognia performs her bars routine on Wednesday, January 23.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

  • Geneva's Ashley Puff performs her beam routine on Wednesday, January 23.

       Geneva's Ashley Puff performs her beam routine on Wednesday, January 23.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

  • Geneva's Megan Beitzel dismounts from the bars at the end of her routine on Wednesday, January 23.

       Geneva's Megan Beitzel dismounts from the bars at the end of her routine on Wednesday, January 23.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

 
By Chris Walker
Daily Herald Correspondent

Geneva recognized seniors Ashley Puff, Jenna Ginsberg and Kelsey Oswald during Wednesday's regular season finale.

The Vikings cruised past Oswego co-op (135.3) and Fenton (102.75) despite an uncharacteristically low 139.65 points.

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"We put in a lot of new skills today and just wanted to see how they would perform," Geneva coach Kim Hostman said. "We had a lot of mistakes on floor and bars but we wanted to try these things before conference."

Puff won the all-around with a 35.65 and Dominique Brognia established a new school-record with a 9.5 on bars. She had been hitting it all week in practice and the trend continued.

"Once we're consistent in practice with something we're ready to go with it," she said. "You just have to focus and once you've done it a bunch of times you just have to go out there and do it."

On bigger stages: St. Charles co-op has shown it can post a huge score during weekday dual meets.

The big question is whether or not it can do the same during this Saturday's conference meet and then the state series.

St. Charles co-op has scored a 147.45, 146.8 and 145.4 in its last three dual meets, but the team wasn't able to deliver such totals at big invites, only scoring a 142.10 at the Lake Forest on Jan. 5 and a 142.425 at the Fremd's Mari-Rae Sopper Invitational at Fremd on Jan. 12.

"Personally I don't think (at Fremd) we were fully there as a team and our heads just weren't into it," senior Jesi Ortiz said. "It was the weekend and while I don't want to put anything on this, we were crabby in the morning and when you put a bunch of crabby girls together it usually doesn't result in a good attitude."

There's no denying that St. Charles has the talent to be one of the eight teams that advances to the state finals. If it can duplicate its recent dual success, a trip to Palatine is just about a sure thing. Sidney Copeland, Kelly Gorniak and freshman Rachel Dugan provide the team with three terrific all-arounders. Senior Jesi Ortiz, a state qualifier on floor last season, also excels on floor, while Cathryn Gotlund and Andrea Schwartz have been contributing 9-plus scores on events. Sierra Thiesse, Sam Upshaw, Alix Scherer have also been key, especially while Sydney Olson slowly works her way back from injury.

St. Charles is pursuing its fifth state appearance in the program's 22-year history. There's also potential to eclipse the best team-score in program history, a 148.255 that earned a second place trophy in 1998.

Can you imagine?: While St. Charles co-op has one of its top teams in school history, just think of the boost another 37-plus all-around score would make?

St. Edward senior Abby Madden, a St. Charles resident, has had a fantastic final season, even flirting with a 38 all-around score.

Since she's an individual competitor and coach Doug Bucholz also serves as a Batavia assistant, Madden has competed alongside the Bulldogs for the past four seasons. Such a schedule actually began five years ago when Abby's older sister, Jordyn, began her career at St. Edward.

While the Madden's great run is nearing its end, it also hardly ever got started.

"Jordyn wasn't sure she wanted to continue so they contacted me and came in to meet," Bucholz said. "Jordyn then decided to continue just high school gymnastics, so it was an attempt to keep her in the sport and it evolved into Abby and family showing greater interest."

With Jordyn now at Indiana University and Abby heading to the University of Iowa next year, Bucholz doesn't anticipate coaching any St. Edward kids next season, although he's open to the opportunity. He plans on continuing to assist at Batavia.

"I am open to continue working with individuals that want to compete," he said. "So some more gymnasts might pop up in the future."

Of course, a pair of sisters this talented is a rare commodity.

Very special season: If the seeding holds true, St. Charles co-op, Geneva, Glenbard West and DeKalb/Sycamore co-op should be the top teams competing in the Glenbard West sectional on Feb. 5.

The winner receives an automatic bid to the state finals. A high-scoring runner-up will find itself biting its nails and scoreboard watching via the Internet as the final two sectionals are scheduled for Feb 6-7.

Through Jan. 23, St. Charles' 147.45 is the fourth-highest score in the state and Geneva's 145.65 is the eighth best. Indeed, it is very much possible that the Tri-Cities could account for 2 of the 8 teams at Palatine.

Geneva has never qualified for state before. The co-op last made the trek in 2008.

"It's going to interesting," Hostman said. "But for now we're just focusing on trying to bring it at conference and Ashley (Puff) and Jenna (Ginsberg) have done a good job of keeping them focused."

Ganster returns: The timing could not have been any worse for Batavia senior Sarah Ganster.

She broke her foot a couple weeks before the season and had surgery just a short time later.

Ganster missed nearly the entire regular season, but finally returned to action on Jan. 16 at Oswego. The two-time sectional-qualifying all-arounder shook off the rust and had a 7.5 on floor, 8.05 on bars and 8.15 on beam.

"She's looking good but is a little timid," Batavia coach Taryn Boyce said. "She's still working on getting all her skills back."

Boyce is hopeful that Ganster can compete as an all-arounder in the UEC meet on Saturday, or at the very least, in regional play next week.

One of the best: There's no doubt that Geneva is going to miss its top all-arounder, Ashley Puff, next year. Puff, who relocated with her family from Minnesota midway through her freshman school year, joined the gymnastics team right away but didn't compete until her sophomore year.

She's made it to state on floor as a sophomore and on beam and floor as a junior. Now she's looking to finish her career with a flourish. There's no doubt that she's one of the top gymnasts in program history, among the likes of Ashley Felicelli and Emily Ott.

"I'd have to see where her all-around high is but it's right there with Emily," Hostman said. "She's just been an irreplaceable leader, consistent all the way around and just a great kid."

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