"It made me want to work harder during the offseason so I could improve a lot and, hopefully, try to go to state, but we'll see what happens," Griffin said. 
"I worked really hard in the offseason. I'm still working on stuff now to improve my routines." 
She is not alone. The Rams have several returnees and are hoping to score at least in the 130s after they get their lineup intact. Once again not at full strength Monday, they lost their dual meet at Andrew 121.05 to 119.30 in what was the Thunderbolts' season opener. This was the Rams' fourth meet and second dual.
"Teamwise we're actually doing pretty well. I think we've improved a lot," Griffin said.
Griffin considered it an off meet for her, yet she still took second in all-around (31.20) to Andrew sophomore Jamie Valla, a 2010 state qualifier in all-around and uneven paralell bars who won all five events Monday. Griffin was second on vault (8.5), uneven bars (7.7) and floor exercise (7.5). 
Senior Bonnie DeBatty (30.20), sophomore Jamie Gradishar (30.20) and senior Kelsey Kovach (27.10) competed as all-arounders, taking fourth, fifth and seventh, resepectively. Freshman Karen Sebby competed on beam and floor while the Rams entered the minimum four gymnasts on vault and uneven bars.
Senior Amanda Rogalske missed the meet because of illness, and freshman Elizabeth Flint, who has seen varsity action, competed on the junior varsity level
"We're thinking Thursday (at Naperville North) might be our first meet with everybody," said Glenbard East coach Jessica Bugajsky, who was married in the offseason.
"So far, we're doing great, very consistent. It's good to get them acclaimated to competing. Some of them have never competed before. The varsity kids have learned some new tricks so it's just good hitting those new tricks, showing them off and getting them ready."  
A stronger mindset has helped, too. Kovach also had a second-place finish with a 7.7 on beam, her third consecutive performance on the event without a fall.
"It's the best one I've done so far. I stuck my tuck 3/4 and my cartwheel and both of my jumps, which I usually don't," Kovach said. "I also usually have a lot of wobbles in it, but today was pretty tight and my moves were nice and crisp."
Gradishar was third on vault (8.4), tied for fourth on floor (7.3), was fifth on uneven bars (6.6) and tied for fifth with Griffin on beam (7.5).
DeBatty was fourth on beam (7.6) and uneven bars (7.3) and fifth on vault (8.0).
Griffin, a sectional qualifier in all-around and beam, hopes to have some company this year at sectionals. Having a mostly veteran lineup has served to motivate all of the returnees.
"The older girls have trained with me in the offseason so we kind of work together and then when the new (freshmen) girls came in, they kind of helped our score because we lost one girl (to graduation)," Griffin said. 
Kovach said that being a senior has made her that much more motivated for her second varsity season. 
"I've been with those same two (other seniors) for a while and I knew Jessica from a friend of mine so we're all pretty close and we've really adopted the freshmen," Kovach said.
"I probably say my attitude (has improved), especially being senior year I'm trying to go all out. I'm trying to leave it all out, trying to put my best forth and tying to make the most out of practice every day because that's really where all of my routines come from."