For the first time in seven years, the Verona/Edgewood gymnastics team finished the season on the biggest stage at the Division 1 state meet.
The Wildcat/Crusaders placed 10th out of 11 teams in the Division 1 team competition with a score of 134.482 on Friday, March 6, at Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln High School. V/E finished 0.27 points behind ninth-place Marshfield.
Senior Hailey Dohnal finished 16th on the balance beam (9.117) and 22nd in the all-around competition (34.883) a day later. Freshman Ella Crowley took 23rd in the all-around (34.267).
Verona/Edgewood coach Rachael Hauser said the team’s goal was not to finish last.
“With our qualification to state being completely unexpected, we had no real expectations going into this meet other than to gain the experience of how it all works,” she said. “I was very impressed with the whole team’s performance on Friday. I expected that nerves might get to them, but they actually handled it much better than I thought they would.”
In addition to her top-16 performance on the floor, Dohnal finished 18th on the vault (8.85) and 20th on the balance beam (9.083).
“Hailey had an off meet on Friday, and I know she was feeling very determined to come back Saturday and put up better scores,” Hauser said. “She was very solid on Saturday. She had a great meet and hit all four events; you can’t ask for more from a final performance. Hailey had a rock-solid beam routine and a much more confident floor routine on Saturday.”
Crowley placed 25th on the vault (8.167) and notched a 9.367 score on the beam, 8.833 on the floor and 7.9 on the bars.
Hauser said both of Crowley’s beam routines at state were great.
“She stuck and connected both of her high-level dance series, so she earned all of her bonus,” Hauser said. “Ella has a unique routine which makes her stand out at a competition with this many girls, and I think the judges rewarded her in the artistry category.”
Crowley led the Wildcat/Crusaders in the team competition on the team (9.133) and on the floor (8.867).
“Ella’s beam is risky, but we built that routine with state in mind,” Hauser said. “Seeing her nail it on the big stage made it all worth it.”
Sophomore Alyssa Fischer scored a team-best 8.2 on the uneven bars. Dohnal had a team-best 8.783 on the vault and sophomore Noelya Jaime Janaite scored an 8.717 on the vault.
The Wildcat/Crusaders scored the lowest of all teams at state on the uneven bars (31.733) and the second-lowest on the beam (33.366).
Hauser said bars has been the weakest event for the team this year, but they have made significant improvements.
“What we lack in bars scores, we make up for in vault and floor scores,” Hauser said. “We had a few falls on beam during team competition, which kept us out of ninth place, but we have the skills to be great in that event. We just need more confidence and consistency.”
The Wildcat/Crusaders will return five gymnasts who competed at state this year.
“Getting the experience of state this year with no pressure on them was really important,” Hauser said. “Now the girls know what they’re aiming for next year, and will know how to handle the pressure and additional challenges of state when we want to make a run for a top finish.”