The Verona Area/Madison Edgewood gymnastics team returns five gymnasts from a team that made a surprise run to the WIAA Division 1 state meet last year.
“I’m really glad the girls got that experience, so they know what to aim for going forward, and it really lit a fire for them to push hard in the gym over the summer,” Verona/Edgewood coach Rachael Hauser said.
The top returners from a team that finished 10th out of 11 teams at state last year are sophomore Ella Crowley, juniors Alyssa Fischer, Noelya Jamie Janaite, Lily Merrick and sophomore Katie Ryan.
The Wildcat/Crusaders had one practice before Public Health Madison and Dane County’s No. 10 order banning indoor gatherings, which lasted a month. The team has since resumed practice, with two in-person meets and one virtual meet scheduled before the sectional meet.
Hauser said she knew the team would need some time to adjust to a new gym and to move new skills from a club setting to competition equipment.
“At this point, we are really just pushing to see how quickly we can get ready for competition, and that might mean some upgrades we were planning on may need to wait until next season,” she said. “I’d hope we could still put up a top-two finish at sectionals, but it took us 12 meets to reach that goal last season, so it’s really hard to say where we’ll end up with only two in-person meets under our belt going into sectionals this year.”
Crowley is expected to be the top vaulter for the Wildcat/Crusaders. She finished 23rd in the all-around competition at state last season with a score of 34.267. 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.
Senior Maggie Veak returns after focusing on club gymnastics last year, but she’s not vaulting because of an injury. Veak was a state qualifier in the vault as a sophomore in 2019. The Wildcat/Crusaders’ lineup in the vault takes a hit with Veak and sophomore Addie Murphy will not be able to vault because of injuries.
“Addie Murphy is currently working through an ankle and back injury, but if she is able to compete this year, you will see big gymnastics from her,” Hauser said.
Hauser said Jamie Janite and Ryan will help in the vault.
Ryan tied Madison Memorial’s Maggie Lee for seventh on the vault (8.85) in the Big Eight Conference meet last year.
Hauser said the strengths of the team this season will be on the balance beam and floor like last season and she hopes to qualify some individuals for state on those apparatuses.
Both Ryan and Fischer have upgraded dismounts on the beam and Jamie Janite has a new routine.
“I think the addition of Maggie Veak to the beam lineup will help us fill the hole that was left by losing Hailey Dohnal, a state qualifier,” Hauser said.
Each gymnast coming into the season has new floor routines and she expects a new energy in that event, Hauser said.
“Floor is typically every team’s highest scoring event, and I think that will hold true for us this year, but we’ve also got potential for a huge event score on beam if we can hit it,” she said.
On the uneven bars, Crowley has a new dismount. Jamie Janite has reworked her routine and Merick has made improvements on her technique, Hauser said.
Fischer (8.55) and Crowley (8.5) placed eighth and ninth, respectively, on the uneven bars at the conference meet last season.
“I think we’ll see minor improvements in our vault score,” Hauser said. “Bars can always use improvement since it’s the hardest of the four events. I think we will have clean routines, but finding more ways to get bonus (points) into our routines will be the goal.”