Strong performance in floor exercise sends Geneva to regional title
Competing in the comfy Mack Olson Gym for the final time this season, the Geneva girls gymnastics team was looking for a great finish on the floor exercise during Wednesday's Geneva regional.
While the Vikings didn't necessarily need a huge score on their final event to advance to next Tuesday's Hinsdale South Sectional, it was a welcome sight for a Geneva team that has its sights set on something much larger than a regional title.
Geneva finished with 142.175, well ahead of runner-up Batavia's 132.375, to take the first step toward getting there. Riverside-Brookfield had a 128.85 and Naperville Central finished its season with a 123.9.
"They knew they had to hit floor really strong and do their best, and we've really worked hard on details, so it was nice to see on floor," Geneva coach Kim Hostman said. "They hit a [37.225] which is a super strong score, but well-deserved. They did everything they needed to do to get that."
Freshman Reese Lackey led the way with a 9.45. Senior Sadie Karlson (9.4) followed before juniors Graci Weems (9.225) and Brooke Lussnig (9.15). The Vikings put on such a great performance that junior Maeve Devlin earned an 8.85, but the Vikings didn't need her score despite a sixth-place finish.
Lussnig (36.075) won the all-around, just sneaking ahead of Karlson (36.025). Lackey (35.05) was third and Weems (34.275) was fourth as all four gymnasts also advanced to the sectional as individual competitors in the all-around. All four gymnasts also qualified in three events apiece, including all four on bars and floor.
While that's a great achievement, Geneva's goals remain team-first, and getting to state and winning a trophy is their chief focus.
"State has been our goal since the beginning of the season, and while we may have had a shaky beam, we picked it up as a whole on floor," Vikings senior Maura Anderson said. "We didn't let it get to us. We just shook it off and continued to do great and make improvements everywhere we've been practicing."
Anderson finished second on beam with an 8.55.
"We practice really hard and we make sure we are all working together as a team to get towards our common goal," she said. "While we know it's a lot of pressure, we know we have to be precise. I think we've done a really good job of continually progressing and making changes and definitely improving together as a whole."
It's far more important to hit your best at sectionals than regionals. Of course, initially you must advance.
"I'm so happy with helping the team win regionals and giving us the push we need going into sectionals," Lussnig said. "I just think we're going to do great as a team at sectionals. We've just been taking it step-by-step. We know what's ahead of us."
They also know they're capable of a better beam result.
"Being on the home court, it's super fun to be here and to win at our high school, but we had some mishaps on beam," Hostman said. "So we really have to get after that and refocus. We gave up 3.5 points on beam with only 2 sticks out of 5, so that's rough, but otherwise I couldn't be more proud."
It was a proud moment for Batavia freshman Wynne Tien, who took fifth in the all-around with 33.875.
The 14-year-old, who has been a gymnast since she was 7, also qualified on beam with an 8.35 and vault with an 8.9.
"It was a little nerve-wracking, but pretty normal," she said. "I started on vault, which was good. It was a good meet. I used to do USAG and switched over, and this has been more fun. It's been a good season."
Sophomore Leah Flesch tied for fourth on beam with an 8.2, while junior Delia Fulton was fourth on vault with a 9 to also advance to sectionals for the Bulldogs.
"Their work ethic is amazing, and that's why they're where they're at," Batavia coach Taryn Boyce said. "Being so young, for them to qualify is because of their great work ethic and repetitions."
While Batavia junior Frannie Gosselin's 14th-place 7.65 on beam is buried in the results, her story is one to be uncovered.
"She's a very good teammate with a great sense of humor," Boyce said. "She's kind of quiet and works hard."
Gosselin slipped while practicing on bars last May and broke her leg. She wasn't cleared from the horrific injury until November, but was able to work all the way back to finish her season as a beam specialist.
"For her to come back from that injury, to even think of coming back is admirable," Boyce said. "I think with that kind of injury, kids want to quit because they're so terrified and there are so many mental blocks. For her to work all the way back into the varsity lineup, and she was a JV kid last year up until regionals. She snuck her way into regionals last year, but was JV all season. Her score got her into this varsity lineup."
Naperville Central junior Gabriela Tapia Gonzalez took fifth on bars with an 8.325 to qualify for the sectional. She also advanced on beam after tying for fourth with Flesch with an 8.2. Last year Gonzalez had to play the waiting game, which she won, as she qualified in the all-around as an at-large qualifier.
"It's cool to have her qualify automatically without having to wait," Naperville Central coach Christina Tardy said. "She had a really good meet tonight. It was probably her best meet of the year, and her highest all-around . She's really consistent and a fierce competitor, so we're excited for next Tuesday."