Gymnasts win sectional title

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MTT News Desk's picture
Rob Reischel
Middleton freshman Madeline Pflasterer-Jennerjohn and the Cardinals have high hopes at state this weekend./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld


MADISON — The numbers had been tabulated.

The results had been conveyed to Middleton girls gymnastics coach Kari Steck.

Steck paused momentarily, then let loose an extremely enthusiastic “Woo Hoo.”

“Woo Hoo” was right.

In a memorable performance, the Cardinals rolled to the championship at last Saturday’s Madison Memorial Sectional.

Middleton posted a team score of 143.5250 and toppled runner-up Madison Memorial (142.750) for the title. That’s believed to be the second-best postseason score in school history. Middleton’s 2001 team scored a 144.2167 at the state meet.

“I’m really happy,” said Cardinals senior Aryn Skibba, who won the all-around championship. “I think we just came in today and needed to be a team and have fun. And I think that really showed.”

Middleton now advances to the WIAA Division 1 state meet at Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln High School for the 18th time in school history. This also marks the Cardinals third straight trip to state and their seventh in eight years.

The team competition is Friday beginning at 2 p.m., while the individual competition is Saturday starting at 11 a.m.

Madison Memorial had won the Big Eight Conference’s dual meet title, as well as the conference tournament. But in their biggest battle of the year, the Cardinals got the better of the Spartans.

“I’m really happy,” Middleton freshman Madeline Pflasterer-Jennerjohn said. “I know we all worked really hard this year and I think we had a really good meet.”

That would be a major understatement.

Skibba was Middleton’s brightest star, winning the all-around competition with a personal-best score of 38.10. Skibba took first place on the balance beam (9.475) and the vault (9.625), and was second on the floor (9.525) and uneven bars (9.475).

After missing the first 2 ½ months of the year with a back injury, Skibba is clearly in peak form.

“She’s amazing and she’s been through so much this year,” Steck said of Skibba. “This is a huge part of her life … and as a former gymnast I know the emotions that go into a sectional meet, which could be your last meet, ever.”

Skibba had plenty of help during Middleton’s unforgettable afternoon.

Pflasterer-Jennerjohn was fifth in the all-around (35.80) and earned a trip to state.

Pflasterer-Jennerjohn was fourth on the bars (9.10) and vault (9.375), fifth on the floor (8.70) and 10th on the beam (8.625).

Gabby Aranda was sixth in the all-around. Aranda’s top finishes included a sixth place showing on the bars (8.975) and a ninth on the floor (8.575).

Lauren Ace had a fifth place finish on the beam (9.0) and qualified for individual state, while Lucy Bergenthal was sixth on the vault (9.20) and ninth on the uneven bars (8.625).

Middleton finished with the highest score in the vault (136.80) and beam (36.175), and was second on the bars (35.60) and floor (34.950).

“I think our biggest goal was just to make it to state, so state’s going to be just like a fun meet,” Pflasterer-Jennerjohn said. “We’re going to try and do well, but it’s more about having fun. This was our biggest accomplishment.”

And there’s no doubt, this accomplishment was huge.

Just seven days earlier — in the same gym — Middleton counted three falls on the beam and narrowly lost to the Spartans at the conference meet.

One week later, the teams swapped positions.

“I told the girls, ‘OK, if we can put up a 141 with three beam falls, then what are we capable of with no falls?’ ” said Steck, whose team had one fall on the beam. “So that was kind of motivational. We definitely knew we could pass them. It was just getting everybody together.”

The Cardinals are clearly together now — and excited to see what they can do at state.

“I think we can get in the top five for sure,” Skibba said. “I think that’s really doable.”


March 1

WIAA Division 1 Madison Memorial Sectional

Team scores: 1. Middleton 143.5250; 2. Madison Memorial 142.750; 3. Madison West 135.8750; 4. Sun Prairie 135.325; 5. Verona/Madison Edgewood 133.1250; 6. Waunakee/DeForest 123.0250; 7. La Crosse Central/Logan 120.60; 8. Madison United 118.150.

Middleton results:

Balance beam (35.60): 1. Aryn Skibba 9.475; 5. Lauren Ace 9.0; 10. Madeline Pflasterer- Jennerjohn 8.625; 13. Gabby Aranda 8.50.

Floor exercise (34.950): 2. Aryn Skibba 9.525; 5. Madeline Pflasterer- Jennerjohn 8.70; 9. Gabby Aranda 8.575; 20. Katherine Marshall 8.150.

Uneven bars (36.175): 2. Aryn Skibba 9.475; 4. Madeline Pflasterer- Jennerjohn 9.10; 6. Gabby Aranda 8.975; 9. Lucy Bergenthal 8.625.

Vault (36.80): 1. Aryn Skibba 9.625; 4. Madeline Pflasterer- Jennerjohn 9.375; 6. Lucy Bergenthal 9.20; 11. Gabby Aranda 8.60.

All-around: 1. Aryn Skibba 38.10; 5. Madeline Pflasterer- Jennerjohn 35.80; 6. Gabby Aranda 34.650.



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