Middleton gymnasts head back to state

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MTT News Desk's picture
By: 
Rob Reischel

 

WAUNAKEE — Bianca Bakkar woke at the crack of dawn last Saturday.

Middleton’s standout senior gymnast tried going back to sleep. But Bakkar couldn’t stop thinking about the looming Waunakee Sectional, and how it could be the final meet of her stellar career.

“I tried to sleep, but I just couldn’t,” Bakkar said. “I was really nervous.”
All the uneasiness was for naught.

Bakkar had her best performance in more than three years, junior Aryn Skibba continued her brilliant season and Middleton rolled to the sectional title.

The Cardinals posted a team score of 140.475 to easily outdistance Verona/Madison Edgewood (138.525) for the sectional championship.

Skibba finished third in the all-around competition (37.150) and qualified for individual state in all four events. Bakkar finished fourth in the all-around (36.625) and posted her best score in that event since she was a freshman. Bakkar will now compete at individual state in three events, as well as the all-around.

Lucy Bergenthal also qualified for state on the vault, where she finished fourth (9.125).

The individual state meet is Friday at Wisconsin Rapids Fieldhouse beginning at 5:40 p.m. The team state tournament is Saturday beginning at 11 a.m.

Middleton earned a trip to the team state tournament for the 16th time in 19 years.

“We talk about maintaining Cardinal pride … and I thought the girls were terrific,” Middleton coach Kari Steck said. “But I know they can be even better.

“Sectionals are do or die, so there’s a lot more pressure and the judging is pretty tough. I think we’ll be more relaxed at state. They just want to have fun.”

Franklin’s combined team and Burlington’s Co-op have been the state’s two dominant programs all year. But Middleton was ranked third in the latest state poll, and believes that type of finish is certainly possible this weekend.

“We could be top three,” Skibba said. “I think if we do what we did (at sectionals), we can pull a third place.”

Middleton’s dynamic duo of Skibba and Bakkar led the way again at sectionals.

Skibba won the floor exercise with a 9.50 and tied for second on the uneven bars (9.350). Skibba was also third on the vault (9.250) and fifth on the balance beam (9.050) despite a fall.

Skibba was fourth at state a year ago, and believes she’s ready for an even better performance this time. Skibba has added several new skills and is hoping for a big showing.

“I know I can improve and that’s what’s exciting,” Skibba said. “Last year was such a fun experience and I learned a lot. There’s not that much pressure.

“I’m way better and a lot more confident. I’ve got a lot more skills — some new skills on the bar and beam — where I can score a lot higher.”

Bakkar is making her third trip to state, and will aim to end her career in style. Bakkar was 13th as a freshman and 18th last season.

Bakkar will certainly be heading to state with a world of momentum.

Bakkar was second on the uneven bars (9.350) and second on the balance beam (9.250) at sectionals. Bakkar was also fourth on the floor exercise (9.250) and eighth on the vault (8.775).

“Bianca was awesome,” Steck said. “She’s a senior and knew this could be her last meet. But she wasn’t going to let that happen.”

Middleton had several other solid performances at sectionals.

Bergenthal was eighth in the all-around after finishing fourth on the vault, seventh on the uneven bars (8.525), 11th on the floor exercise (8.375) and 20th on the balance beam (8.025).

Gabby Aranda was 10th on the uneven bars (8.50), Dana Flickinger was 16th on the beam (8.10), Lauren Ace was 17th on the vault (8.175) and Katherine Marshall was 25th on the floor (7.875).

“There’s always a lot of pressure at sectionals, but I thought the team did great,” Bakkar said. “It was a lot of fun.”

 

Feb. 23

WIAA Waunakee Sectional

Team scores: 1. Middleton 140.475; 2. Verona/Madison Edgewood 138.525; 3. Madison Memorial 134.15; 4. Madison West 132.125; 5. Sun Prairie 130.875; 6. Waunakee/DeForest 126.275; 7. La Crosse Logan/Central 125.725; 8. Madison East/La Follette 108.775.

 

Middleton scores:

Balance beam: 2, Bianca Bakkar 9.250; 5, Aryn Skibba 9.050; 16, Dana Flickinger 8.10; 20, Lucy Bergenthal, 8.025.

Floor: 1, Aryn Skibba, 9.50; 4, Bianca Bakkar, 9.250; 11, Lucy Bergenthal, 8.375; 25, Katherine Marshall, 7.875.

Uneven bars: 2, Aryn Skibba, 9.350; 2, Bianca Bakkar, 9.350; 7, Lucy Bergenthal, 8.525; 10, Gabby Aranda, 8.50.

Vault: 3, Aryn Skibba, 9.250; 4, Lucy Bergenthal, 9.125; 8, Bianca Bakkar, 8.775; 17, Lauren Ace, 8.175.

All-around: 3, Aryn Skibba, 37.150; 4, Bianca Bakkar, 36.625; 8, Lucy Bergenthal, 34.050.

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