WEST BEND — They picked up right where they left off — those who are back, anyway.
Waupun’s prep gymnastics team graduated two talented girls from last year’s team that made it to state for the first time in program history, but the mix of returnees and newcomers showed at Saturday’s season-opening West Bend East Invite that 2017-18 might be just as good. The Warriors posted a score (125.175) that was just more than three points off the score the team put up at state (128.3667) to conclude last year’s campaign.
Waupun’s score Saturday was good enough for sixth place among nine teams, holding off seventh-place Oshkosh (124.375). Both were beaten out by fifth-place Brookfield (126.450) and well back of champion Grafton/Cedarburg (134.075).
“All the girls had some great successes today,” said Emily Engelhardt, the Warriors’ co-head coach along with Jane Neevel. “There’s always a little more nerves for the first meet, but once we got through the first event (floor exercise), they all settled in nicely. Their confidence and attitude today was great — we really wanted to hit the ground running since we have so many meets in December, and Jane and I are thrilled with how they did today.”
The Warriors’ roster is loaded with younger athletes, as four are sophomores and one is a freshman to go along with two juniors.
Leading the way Saturday was sophomore Isabelle Doege, who tied for fifth on the vault (8.55), was eighth on the floor exercise (personal record 8.575), 10th on the balance beam (PR 8.5), 11th on the uneven bars (7.625), and narrowly missed the podium in the all-around by taking sixth with a personal record overall score of 33.25.
“Izzy had a great day — she’s upgraded her floor routine and that showed, and competing at the state meet last year as a freshman, and finishing ninth on bars, gave her some great perspective and ambition,” Engelhardt said. “She’s been working on her execution and it showed today in her scores. Even though she had a fall on bars and another on beam, she still had her highest all-around, and almost got on the podium among some really tough D1 competition.”
Junior Eryn Hautamaki took sixth on vault with a PR 8.5 and sophomore Grace Lenz was 13th on beam with a no-fall 8.35.
Sophomore Emily Rens had PRs on both vault (7.7) beam (7.675) while sophomore Sara Miller had a PR on beam (8.25), and freshman Hannah Scholten made her varsity debut with a solid performance on floor en route to a score of 7.95.
“We know what we have to work on to keep bumping up that team score, and today was a great indicator of the kind of season we should have,” said Engelhardt, whose team was also in action Monday night vs. West Allis Central/Hale. “It’s amazing the transformation the sophomores have gone through with a year of competition under their belts.
“There’s nowhere to go but up.”
WEST BEND EAST INVITE
Team scores: Grafton/Cedarburg 134.075, Manitowoc Lincoln 132.475, West Bend East 128.275, Watertown 127.325, Brookfield 126.450, Waupun 125.175, Oshkosh 124.375, Valders/Manitowoc Roncalli 119.625, Oconomowoc 118.775.