By Jennifer Eisenbart
All season long, the Burlington Combined gymnastics team hasn’t looked ahead – purposely focusing on the journey rather than the destination of a possible state title.
Now, with its second straight WIAA Division 1 team sectional title in its pocket and three individuals headed to state in the all-around and a variety of different events, BBW can finally look at the goal of accomplishing what it missed out on last year – that state title.
“They never really talked about it all year,” said coach Diane Biedrzycki. “But now that we’re here, they do talk about it.
“They feel they’re ready.”
In spite of a shaky performance on the balance beam at sectionals – of which the end result was no one qualifying for state on that event – BBW posted a team score of 149.30, outdistancing Franklin Combined (148.65).
The two teams have traded spots for most of the year, and are widely considered the top two teams in the state by a wide margin. Mukwonago/Kettle Moraine was a distance third at the sectional with 144.55 – a mark that turned out to be the third-best score overall amongst all the sectionals.
However, because the WIAA commits to two teams from each sectional, Mukwonago/Kettle Moraine will be at home as a team for the second straight year in spite of being the third best squad.
The top five individual qualifiers in each event and in the all-around qualify for the individual state meet, held Friday starting at 5:40 p.m. in Wisconsin Rapids. The team competition is Saturday starting at 11 a.m.
BBW, meanwhile, was solid across three of the four events at the Feb. 21 sectional. The only problems came when the team counted a pair of falls and two slightly unsteady routines.
Defending state champion Molly Benavides had a 9.075 for ninth, while Jenna Fitzpatrick scored a team-best 9.175 and finished seventh.
“They were disappointed in their beam performance,” said Biedrzycki. “(But) after beam, I had no worries that they’d come back strong on floor and vault.”
BBW scored a meet-best 37.525 on floor and added a 38.525 on vault. That vault total was 1.2 points ahead of the next best team on that event.
As individuals, the squad swept the top three all-around spots. Jenna Fitzpatrick put together the best day of any member of the team, winning the uneven bars with a 9.675, finishing second on vault with a 9.725 and tied for fourth on floor (with her sister, Bailey) with a score of 9.425.
She also won the all-around with a score of 38.00.
Benavides finished second in the all-around with a score of 37.825, also winning the vault (9.75) and floor exercise (9.65) and finishing fourth on bars with a 9.35. Bailey Fitzpatrick was third in the all-around (37.525) after a fall off beam, but finished third on vault (9.65) and second on bars (9.60) to qualify in those events and on the floor.
Rounding out BBW’s team scores were Jacquie Fiorillo’s 9.40 on vault and 8.775 on bars and Lauren Otter’s 8.75 on beam and 9.025 on floor. Ciara Johnson also competed, and was the team’s fifth score on each event.
For Friday’s individual competition, the Waukesha West sectional competitors will start on vault in the second rotation of five rounds.
But in Saturday’s team competition, BBW will be the very first team up on vault, and will be followed by Franklin in the next rotation all afternoon.
It means the two favored teams will both be finished with their day by the last round – and also that judges will be able to directly compare the squads.
Biedrzycki said her team wouldn’t really change much going into the meet.
“We went through each event from sectionals, and what we could do to prepare better,” she said. “It’s nothing major. It’s more mental.”