Middleton gymnasts 4th at state

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Madeline Pflasterer-Jennerjohn and Middleton's girls gymnastics team finished fourth at state./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld


WISCONSIN RAPIDS — Kari Steck knew what was realistic.

As Middleton’s girls gymnastics coach studied the WIAA Division 1 state field last week, one thing was clear: there were three Milwaukee-area teams that seemed head and shoulders above the field.

So Steck set this goal for her team.

“We thought it would be awesome to aim for fourth place,” Steck said. “The top three teams in the state dominate Division 1.

“There was no way for us to even come close to the scores they put up. But fourth was a good goal for the girls.”

And one that Middleton was thrilled to achieve.

The Cardinals had one of their best meets of the year, posting a score of 142.9480 that landed them in fourth place.

The Franklin co-op team won the meet with a 147.2850, while Burlington’s co-op team was second (147.2330) and Arrowhead was third (146.4840).

Middleton finished more than one point ahead of fifth place Mequon Homestead (141.8350).

“We knew coming in that we weren't going to be close to the Milwaukee teams,” Middleton senior standout Aryn Skibba said. “So our goal was to just beat out the others and we did it. It was such a great feeling that we could have another great final team meet like at sectionals.”

Middleton’s finish was its best at state since the 2009 team also took fourth.

“We knew going in that the three schools ahead of us had a lot of talent,” Middleton freshman Madeline Pflasterer-Jennerjohn said. “So we were more likely competing for fourth, fifth, or sixth place. We all went out and put together some good routines, so we were very happy with fourth place.”

With good reason.

The Cardinals had a terrific showing at virtually every stop.

Middleton had the third-best score on the uneven bars (35.999), was fourth on the vault (36.40) and sixth on both the floor exercise (35.316) and the balance beam (35.233).

“They had one of their best meets all year,” Steck said of her team. “To put up one of our highest scores at state is huge.”

Middleton’s best event was the vault, led by Skibba’s 9.617. Pflasterer-Jennerjohn posted a 9.217, junior Lucy Bergenthal had an 8.883 and senior Gabby Aranda had an 8.683.

Skibba also had a sensational performance on the bars, where she posted a 9.633. Aranda scored an 8.90, Pflasterer-Jennerjohn had an 8.883 and Bergenthal had an 8.583.

Skibba scored a 9.30 on the balance beam and Pflasterer-Jennerjohn posted an 8.80. Junior Lauren Ace scored an 8.633 and Aranda notched an 8.50.

Skibba also led the way on the floor exercise with a 9.283. Aranda scored an 8.933, Pflasterer-Jennerjohn had an 8.767 and sophomore Katherine Marshall scored an 8.333.

This marked the first season that the state team meet was held before the individual state meet. And Middleton certainly adapted well.

“It was very different doing individuals on Saturday … however it was a very good different,” Steck said. “I really stress to the girls the importance of being a team, so when it was suggested last year to change the format of the state meet … I loved the idea.

“I really think it shows the girls that we value the team aspect of gymnastics. My girls loved it, they thrive off of the team atmosphere and support of their teammates.”

While Middleton got terrific performances up and down the lineup, Aranda’s huge day was particularly vital.

“Gabby Aranda had the meet of her life,” Steck said. “This is the first year Gabby has been healthy enough to compete all around. She has overcome so much, even just in this year. I am so proud of her, as she has grown and improved so much, which is a credit to her dedication.”

Middleton’s performance capped a memorable year for the program.

The Cardinals finished second in the Big Eight Conference dual meet season and were also second at the league’s postseason meet. But Middleton won the Madison Memorial Sectional, then had a huge day at state.

“I think every year is memorable, but this one was definitely a special one,” Steck said. “The girls overcame so much as a team, which is amazing to watch and be a part of for the season.

“They have all grown so much, not only as gymnasts but as young adults too. That's one of the greatest parts of coaching, especially in gymnastics.

“I couldn't be more proud of the girls. They make coaching fun. It's teams like this that keep you coming back for more.”

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