Senior Hailey Dohnal practiced a Tsukahara vault only twice before Verona/Edgewood’s season opener Thursday, Dec. 19, against Madison Memorial.

The lack of practice didn’t deter Dohnal, who pulled off the Tsukahara to finish first in the vault (8.425) at Glacier Edge Elementary School in Verona.

The vault features a roundoff onto the table and then a back tuck dismount. It is named after Japanese gymnast Mitsuo Tsukahara.

“I really wanted to flip my vault this first meet,” Dohnal said. “It felt really good to stand one up. There is stuff I have to fix. I was a little crooked, but I’m really happy with how it went for the first meet.”

The Wildcat/Crusaders followed that up by taking fourth place in the White Division at the Mount Horeb Invitational on Saturday, Jan. 4.

Mount Horeb Invitational

The Wildcat/Crusaders finished with 128.80 points, less than a point behind third-place Sun Prairie (129.775) and less than three points behind runner-up Middleton (131.10) in the seven-team White Division. Whitefish Bay captured the division title (138.375).

“We were honestly hoping to finish a little higher, but we had some mistakes on bars and floor that cost us,” Verona/Edgewood coach Rachael Hauser said. “We took a risk with adding some new skills that maybe weren’t ready yet and the result was hit or miss, but I’m proud of the girls for getting out there and trying their best.”

Dohnal finished third on the vault (8.9) and fourth on the floor (8.925). She took eighth in the all-around competition (32.675).

After falling on her first vault, Dohnal went big on her second one. Hauser said Dohnal got more height, which lead to a better landing position.

Freshman Ella Crowley placed seventh on the balance beam (8.625). The Wildcat/Crusaders had three of the top 11 gymnasts on the floor. In addition to Dohnal, Katie Ryan took eighth (8.475) and sophomore Lily Merrick placed 11th (8.25) out of 34 gymnasts in the event.

The team also had three of the top 11 in the uneven bars. Sophomore Alyssa Fischer finished seventh (8.00), freshman Kayla Wagner took 10th (7.70) and Merrick was 11th (7.55).

“I don’t think anyone will say bars is their strong event, and I feel like we still have a long way to go on improving our bars sets as well,” Hauser said. “But it is encouraging to see that we can hang with our other conference teams in that event.”

Madison Memorial 133.075, Verona/Edgewood 129.45

Dohnal won the all-around competition (33.225), just ahead of Memorial sophomore Sarah Hershberger (33.100).

“I think she got a little fire and was like, ‘I want to flip,’” Hauser said of Dohnal’s vault. “It wasn’t a surprise she won, but it was a surprise she completed that vault. She wanted to do it. Props to her.”

Dohnal finished second on the balance beam (8.650) and tied for second on the floor (8.75). She said two of her goals this season are to turn her vault from a tuck to a pike and her beam back tuck dismount into a layout.

Fischer took third on the uneven bars (8.1), and Crowley placed fourth on the beam (8.650).