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.”
Memorial won the closely-contested dual 133.075-129.45. It was the Spartans’ third competition of the season.
“They have been scoring 132 and I thought that may be a little ambitious for our first meet,” Verona/Edgewood coach Rachael Hauser of the Spartans, a team she judged earlier in the season. “I wasn’t expecting to win. I was more focused on getting them through this meet with seven girls who have never competed in this environment before.”
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,’” Verona/Edgewood coach Rachael 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.
Verona/Edgewood sophomore Alyssa Fischer took third on the uneven bars (8.1), and freshman Ella Crowley placed fourth on the beam (8.650).
“That’s one of her best events,” Hauser said of Crowley. “She’s nice and solid. We just have to get her a little more bonus to bump her score up. She needs more turning jumps.”
Four of the Wildcat/Crusaders’ varsity gymnasts are freshmen and sophomores.
“I really just told the girls to go have fun and not stress about it,” Dohnal said. “A lot of them were really nervous. I told them to go out there, have fun and do the routines you know how to do.”
Verona/Edgewood competed without sophomore Noelya Jaime Janaite, who has an ankle injury and was in New York on vacation.
“She’s coming with some pretty solid upgrades, so we probably would have had a higher point total,” Hauser said.
Hauser said Jaime Janaite will compete at the Mount Horeb Invitational on Jan. 4.