The Division III season officially concluded last weekend with the National Championships, hosted by Stout.
NCGA Championships is a two-day competition, with the team and all-around competition held on the first day, where we saw three teams from the East Region (Brockport, Ursinus, and Springfield) face off against three teams from the WIAC (Whitewater, La Crosse, and Stout) while team gymnasts and individual all-around qualifiers (Lauren Kershner and Alex Kopp of Gustavus, Allie DiBiase and Miranda Murphy of Rhode Island, Jessica Bernardo of Oshkosh, and Eboni Jackson of Winona State) battle for the all-around title.
Whitewater earned its fourth national title in six seasons with a 191.000 after dominating most of the meet and posting the highest event totals on everything but floor. Whitewater blew everyone out of the water on beam especially, scoring a 48.25 and counting big scores from McKenzie Foster (9.775), Courtney Pickett (9.725), Franchesca Hutton (9.675), and Lisa O’Donnell (9.6), who was also crowned national all-around champion with a 38.225 while leading the team on bars with a 9.725. Katie Fiorilli led the vault rotation with a 9.55, and Katie Mierow posted the team’s highest floor score of 9.7.
La Crosse came in second with a 188.300, especially impressive considering the team had not one, but two consecutive devastating injuries in its floor lineup. Kari Willett led La Crosse on all three of the events she competes, scoring a 9.525 on vault, 9.725 on beam, and a 9.625 on floor. Leah Spankowski also contributed a 9.725 on beam, and Elsa Spitzmueller tied with Willett’s 9.625 on floor.
The race for third place was VERY close, but ultimately it was Brockport who got it with a 186.800, which is actually one of the team’s lower scores this season, though they competed well, so judging was clearly very tight here. The Eagles were led by Stephanie Mager on vault (9.5), Meghan Cash (9.575) and Maddie O’Braitis (9.525) on bars, and Brittany Vasile on floor (9.7). Candis Kowalik contributed a pair of 9.675s on both beam and floor.
In fourth was Ursinus with a 186.750, only half a tenth away from tying Brockport. The Beam Queens of Ursinus were, of course, the ones who came the closest to catching Whitewater on beam, with a 47.5 (which is still a 0.65 deficit, just to highlight how stellar Whitewater was at this meet). Strong bar sets came from Lauren Chavis (9.55) and Kaelin Ruoss (9.525). Amanda Palladino led the Beam Queens with a 9.7, followed by a 9.625 from Kelly McLaughlin and a 9.5 from Ruoss. Alexandra Puryear and Heather Brubaker posted team high 9.5s on floor.
Host team Stout was fifth with a 186.475. I 100% did not even expect this team to even qualify to the meet, but they came in as a dark horse at WIAC regionals to take the third spot, and I’m super proud of them for even qualifying! Stout had two 9.5s on bars from MacKenzie Nicholson and Emma Byrd, a 9.7 on beam from Kelly Huseman, and a 9.7 on floor from Kaylee Jondahl.
In sixth with a 184.775 was Springfield, another team I was very happy to see qualify after spending many years not being able to make it as a team. They were led by strong performances by Briana Kerr on bars (9.575), Ashley Parchinksi (9.475) and Marissa DeAngelo (9.45) on beam, and Nicole Silva (9.5) and Tali Twomey (9.5) on floor. DeAngelo also took third in the all-around competition.
The top ten all-arounders who earned All American honors were:
|7||Eboni Jackson||Winona State||37.200|
|8||Samantha Wiekamp||La Crosse||37.100|
The individual event champions were determined on the second day of competition. Gymnasts qualified here based on their regional finishes, not based on qualification scores on the first day of nationals, as most meets tend to go. A total of 21 athletes competed on each event in day two. The top six on each event earned First Team All-American honors, while those who ranked seventh through twelfth earned Second Team All-American honors.
There was a FIVE WAY tie for third place on vault, which is pretty insane. Among those who tied was Carolyn Nichols of Ithaca, who STUCK her front handspring, front handspring, front tuck vault. O’Donnell won this event, while Kopp placed second.
The bars competition was dominated by WIAC athletes taking the top 7 scores (East Region, get it together on bars!). La Crosse had over half of its bar lineup qualify, which is pretty impressive. Brockport also had quite a few representatives on beam and almost their entire lineup on floor. Baylee Tkaczuk, whom we featured in our favorite routines of the season post last week, won this event with O’Donnell in second and Abby Ostrovsky of La Crosse in third.
On beam, Kowalik and Willett tied for the title, each with a 9.6, while Jackson was close behind with a 9.575 for third. Jackson came back to win the floor title with a huge 9.85 in the floor final, which was absolutely electric and where we saw the highest scores of the competition. I wonder how much higher all of these scores would have been in Division I lineups? Pickett took second there and Spitzmueller was third.
Special shoutout to Lisa O’Donnell for qualifying to every single event final! She was the only gymnast to basically compete all-around two days in a row, and finished the weekend not only with team and all-around titles, but also with the vault title and a total of four individual All-American finishes. Amazing!
The top 12 gymnasts on each event who earned All-American honors are below.
|Kari Willett||La Crosse||9.650|
|3||Abby Ostrovsky||La Crosse||9.675|
|6||Lauren Wilson||La Crosse||9.600|
|7||Amy Enright||La Crosse||9.575|
|Kari Willett||La Crosse||9.600|
|3||Eboni Jackson||Winona State||9.575|
|9||Kelly Johnston||Winona State||9.375|
|1||Eboni Jackson||Winona State||9.850|
|3||Elsa Spitzmueller||La Crosse||9.750|
|4||Erin Olson||Eau Claire||9.725|
|Kari Willett||La Crosse||9.575|
Article by Sarah Keegan