Hey, with added incentives like a quick shopping trip in the Illinois suburbs and some Chicago-style pizza thrown in, no wonder the Franklin. Muskego, Oak Creek and Whitnall girls gymnastics team won its first time around in the 15-school Niles West (Ill.) Invitational last Saturday.
"I was looking for a meet outside of the area," coach Katie Moore said. "It would be a good change of pace, so last year I emailed a conference in northern Illinois asking if there were any big meets we could get into and I got a couple of positive responses.
"But it turned out to be quite a surprise when we won. Now we probably won't be invited back (laughs)."
Small margin of error
The meet was unique in that only three gymnasts took part in each event for each team and all of them counted (as opposed to the usual five per event with four scoring), so the margin for error was very small.
"But it also took some pressure off of us," Moore said, "because we were able to bring a good group of kids down and spread them around. We didn't have an all-around and everyone took part in only two events each max."
The two-time defending WIAA State Division 1 champs, which had turned in a season best of 147.5 in a conventionally-scored quadrangular meet the week before, scored 109.878 points for its victory in Niles which is a suburb north of Chicago. Geneva (Ill.) was second with 106.975.
The team was paced by victories from Whitnall senior Lauren Zurowski on vault (9.6) and Muskego senior Sammie Olson on uneven bars (9.3).
Zurowski was making one of her first appearances of the year since battling back from some nagging injuries.
Other good efforts by event included the following: vault: Becca Teska of Franklin, seventh (9.25); bars: Alyssa Behrendt of Muskego, sixth (8.9); and Paige Schreiber of Muskego, seventh (8.825); balance beam: Sam Balcerak of Muskego, second (9.325); and Olson, third (9.275); and floor exercise: Shannon Hein of Muskego, third (9.275); and Rachel Tillman of Whitnall, fifth (9.1).
The high level of the new competition made for a good time, Moore said.
"We competed at a high school with a facility at least as good as our own home (Altius)," she said. "There was no real expectation going in so we just went in relaxed and worked on bettering our own performances. … It was an awesome day. The setup was a little different and that made for some exciting competition."
And afterward everyone got to go shopping and get some pizza.
FMOW travels to Kenosha Tremper at 6:30 p.m. Thursday for a dual meet and then heads west on Saturday for the Madison Memorial Invitational (10 a.m.).
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