Skibba, Cardinals aiming high at state

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MTT News Desk's picture
Rob Reischel
Middleton’s Aryn Skibba won the all-around championship at last Saturday’s Madison Memorial Sectional./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

MADISON — It may have been the longest 10 weeks of Aryn Skibba’s young life.

The devoted, passionate, remarkably gifted Middleton gymnast went from standout to spectator.

And watching her teammates compete hurt immensely. Perhaps even more than the back injury that had sidelined Skibba.

“It was awful,” Skibba said. “Just awful.”

Today, Skibba is making up for lost time.

Skibba set a school record in the all-around competition with her score of 38.10 at last Saturday’s Madison Memorial Sectional. Not only did Skibba win the all-around title, she posted the second-highest all-around score from any sectional in the state.

Now, Skibba and the Cardinals head to the WIAA Division 1 state meet at Wisconsin Rapids High School full of confidence. The team competition begins Friday at 2 p.m. and the individual competition starts Saturday at 11 a.m.

“She’s amazing,” Middleton coach Kari Steck said of Skibba. “She couldn’t do any conditioning with the girls when the year started. For November, December and half of January she was not allowed to do anything.

“She’s always been doing something, and I think that was very, very hard for her. So for her to overcome all of that is amazing.”

That’s for sure.

Skibba is one of the most gifted gymnasts to ever pass through Middleton’s program.

As a sophomore in 2012, Skibba finished fourth at state in the all-around competition with a 36.416. Last season Skibba improved her score to 37.317, which was good for sixth place.

Skibba was excited to have a big senior year. But a lower back injury kept her on the bench for more than half of the year.

Despite the frustrations that came with waiting and watching, Skibba always stayed positive.

“She always had a really good attitude,” Middleton freshman Madeline Pflasterer-Jennerjohn said of Skibba. “She’s always positive, even when things aren’t perfect … like when she was out.

“But she’s really tough. I love watching her. She’s a really good gymnast.”

If anyone in the state had forgotten that, Skibba gave them a not-so-subtle reminder at sectionals. In the process, Skibba edged Madison Memorial’s Caroline Smith (37.90) — her primary competitor in the area — for the all-around title.

Skibba says she still has some pain in her back, and takes a daily anti-inflammatory. For the most part, though, Skibba is about as healthy as she’s going to be.

“It’s tolerable,” Skibba said. “There’s a little pain there … but it’s not too bad.”

What Skibba feels bad about is this weekend will mark the end of her gymnastics career. Skibba will give up the brutal sport after the state meet.

So Skibba hopes to make her final meet her best one yet.

“I think if I do as good as I did (at sectionals), I can do really well,” Skibba said. “It’s really bittersweet.

“I’m going to miss the atmosphere and things like that. But I’m sure my body will thank me.”

Middleton also heads to state as a definite threat to crack the top-five. The Cardinals were seventh at state last year, and sixth in 2012.

But Middleton’s score at sectionals was the fourth best in the state.

If the Cardinals can have a similar performance — or even better — Steck believes the Cardinals can have an extraordinary weekend at state.

“Everybody did really well (at sectionals), but I don’t even think that’s the best we can do,” Steck said. “I don’t want to put pressure on the girls, but I think we can still be even better. We’re really coming together right now.”

Thanks in large part to the return of Skibba. 

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