The Wildcat gymnastics team has made a habit of competing at the WIAA State Tournament. And after making its 18th straight trip to state last weekend, with just one senior on the roster, associate head coach Lauren Kaminski is confident that streak will continue.
The Cats placed fifth in the 10-team Division 2 competition Friday, March 1, in Wisconsin Rapids with a team score of 136.3833. The following day, four Wildcats competed in the individual portion of the state meet, where Natalie Swick and Autumn Tiede tied for fifth in the vault and Tiede took home a sixth-place medal in the all-around.
Swick is the team's lone senior, and Kaminski said the rest of the Cats proved they are worthy of returning to state next year.
"We would have liked to have landed a little higher up in the rankings at the end of the day, but we are proud of the girls' performances and of the season they had," she said. "This season brought a lot of changes and challenges and the team persevered through them all and came out stronger at the end of the season. With this being a young team, we are looking forward to seeing them grow, both athletically and as a team in the coming years."
Swick posted a personal best score of 9.2 on the vault in Friday's team competition, then bettered that with a 9.3 in the individual meet Saturday to join Tiede on the fifth place position on the awards podium. The 9.3 score was a season best for both Wildcats.
"Natalie's vaults were the most powerful I've ever seen her do, so to finish her career out with that great performance and to earn a trip to the state podium was well-deserved and really wonderful to be a part of," Kaminski said. "We've been so proud of all she's overcome and learned this year."
Tiede, meanwhile, scored 9.25 in the floor exercise, 8.7 on the balance beam and 8.3 on the uneven bars for a sixth-place total of 35.55 in the all-around.
"Autumn had a really great day," Kaminski said. "She adapted well to things and made smart decisions on beam. When they called her score out for sixth place all-around, she was quite surprised. It was exciting to see her make a splash into the state all-around contention."
Swick also competed on the floor Saturday and placed 13th with a score of 9.167 while sophomore Eva Mikla made her individual state debut on the balance beam with a 22nd place score of 8.117 and sophomore Madison Berg finished 21st on the uneven bars with a score of 7.883. Berg placed fourth on bars at the state meet a year ago and missed much of this season with an injury before winning the sectional title at the sectional meet in West Salem Feb. 20.
"Madison unfortunately had a fall on bars, which sadly dashed her hopes of making a repeat trip to the podium," Kaminski said. "She still made an impressive comeback from a back injury this season, so to qualify for state with only four practices was commendable."
Berg and classmate Isabelle Seyffer both turned in personal-best scores in the floor exercise in the final event of Friday's state team competition to help the Cats to a fifth place team finish. Whitefish Bay won the team title with 145.2.
"We went into the meet knowing that we would have tough competition from several other teams, but we set out as we always do to have our best meet of the season, enjoy the experience, and stay focused on the parts we can control," Kaminski said.
Berg had a 9.0 on the floor and Seyffer and Mikla both earned scores of 9.133 while Swick posted a team-high 9.283.
Kaminski said Mikla also did a great job finishing out the Cats' rotation on the balance beam with a clean, solid routine.
"She is in the final spot to be our closer and did just that," Kaminski said. "On the flip side, Madisyn Tape is in our first spot and did an excellent job starting the team out on a great note."
Tape and Mikla posted identical score of 8.33 on the beam while freshman Lexi Epstein earned a team-high 8.567. Swick's 9.2 led the Wildcats in the vault while Berg had a high score of 8.65 on bars.