Gymnasts have high hopes

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Lexi Quartaro and Middleton’s girls gymnastics team were excited to get their season started last week./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

The wait was excruciating.

But now that they’re back, they have big plans.

Middleton superintendent Dana Monogue and athletic director Jamie Sims approved the return of winter sports on Jan. 11, with all competitions to be played outside of Dane County. Now, the Cardinals girls gymnastics team is hoping to make the most of what’s left of their season.

“While things might look very different, we're so excited to be able to have meets, especially knowing sectionals is coming up quickly,” Middleton coach Kari Steck said.

Amazingly, sectionals will arrive on Feb. 18. Between now and then, the Cardinals will try making the most of unique practices and compete in a handful of virtual meets.

Right now, Middleton’s first virtual meet is slated for Feb. 4 against Sun Prairie.

Due to pandemic restrictions imposed by Dane County health officials, the Cardinals must maintain six feet of social distancing during practices and can only have 10 players on the mat at the same time. 

While that’s led to some challenges, Steck and her team fully understand that something beats nothing.

“This gives the girls hope and something to look forward to, especially knowing that we'll be able to compete in person in sectionals,” Steck said.

When the Cardinals do return to competition, Steck believes she’ll have a deep and gifted team.

Senior Taylor Engelkes reached the state tournament last year and finished in 17th place in the all-around competition. Engelkes was also 17th on the floor exercise and 20th on the vault (8.817).

“She’s a captain,” Steck said. “She’s a great leader with lots of experience under pressure.”

Junior Megg Weiler is another captain who finished in 23rd place at state on the uneven bars last year.

“It was her first year on the team last year,” Steck said of Weiler. “She grew immensely in her confidence as a gymnast and as a leader.”

Sophomores Jayden Mathias, Lucy Hellenbrand and Lexi Quartaro were all key contributors last year and will have key roles again.

“Jayden’s such a talented kid,” Steck said. “She'll be one to watch over the next few years. Lexi Quartaro’s confidence grew a ton last year. She's got great potential.

“And we’re working on keeping (Lucy) strong and healthy. We've got such strength and depth in the program, so the future is going to be very exciting.”

Senior Maddie Phaneuf is another key returnee who will be part of the Cardinals’ balance beam lineup.

“Her confidence has grown tremendously over the past few years, and I anticipate she'll be one to watch,” Steck said of Phaneuf.

Steck also expects freshman all-arounder Scarlet Stahl and freshman Vivian Cressman (floor) to play big roles.

“We've really got a lot of depth in the incoming freshman this year, so it will be an exciting next few years,” Steck said.

For now, Steck is excited about the next month — and what her Cardinals can accomplish.

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