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Morgan Seberger (22) helped lead Geneva to a Class 4A fourth-place finish for the second time in the program's history. | Brian O'Mahoney/For Sun-Times Media
There was laughter mixed with tears as Geneva wrapped up one of its most successful seasons on Saturday at Redbird Arena in Normal.
The Vikings were in good spirits after falling to Marian Catholic, 45-34, in the Class 4A third-place game, but for the seniors, the reality that their run at Geneva was over was hard to overlook.
Senior Morgan Seberger, who chose not to follow in the footsteps of her sisters Alison and Sarah and play for Montini (which won its fourth Class 3A state crown in five years Saturday), was particularly emotional.
“I love playing with this team,” Seberger said. “I chose to come here instead of going to Montini and I’m blessed to sit here with my coach and my players. I can’t even describe how excited I am. I know I’m emotional right now. It’s amazing.”
She and fellow seniors Michaela Loebel and Sidney Santos played much of their lives together, culminating with the state finals appearance. But the road was very rocky. Santos missed two full seasons with knee injuries, and Loebel missed nearly two seasons before coming back during the playoffs this year to help the push to state.
Yet they all united as a full lineup at the right time this year to put together an incredible postseason run.
“I define us as a team,” Santos said. “That’s what we are. We all believe in each other. We all fought the past couple weeks. I couldn’t imagine being here with anyone else.”
The Vikings won a share of the Upstate Eight River title, a sixth consecutive regional title, a fourth sectional title in six years and finished fourth in the state for the second time in program history.
The seniors recall watching that 2009 team’s 32-0 run to state before they lost twice to finish fourth. Now the Vikings are hoping that the young people in the program and the youngsters who followed the run remember this so they can build their own legacy.
Juniors Janie McCloughan and Abby Novak will shift into starring roles next season after being major contributors this year. Freshman Grace Loberg emerged as one of the area’s best post players after her December call-up to the varsity team.
“There was a team before them that came down (to state) and they wanted that,” Geneva coach Sarah Meadows said. “We had a lot of little kids in our hotel this weekend, a lot of siblings that are going to grow up and be Vikings. It’s great for them to be able to experience this. Not to mention the fact that we have kids on our team now that got to experience this and are going to come back and want to be in the same spot.”