WIAA sectionals in any sport have a lot on the line with hopes and dreams for state tournament berths rising or falling with each effort.
In the WIAA girls gymnastics sectional meet at Mukwonago on Feb. 23, those feelings were amplified because so many good teams and individuals were packed into one event.
Good people were going to be left behind no matter what.
Not the defending state division 1 champion Franklin, Muskego, Oak Creek and Whitnall squad, though, as despite a sloppier-than-intended effort, it still won the eight-team meet and also qualified a slew of individuals for the WIAA state meet in Wisconsin Rapids this Friday and Saturday, March 3 and 4.
Coach Katie Moore was not surprised by the show of nerves.
"We went with a similar lineup to the one we had the conference meet (the previous week, which FMOW won)," she said. "The judging was similar, but our performance at conference was better. We cleaned up some small things, but then we had some major mistakes. There was a lot of tension involved with the high level of competition, so the girls were very nervous. We know we need to take care of things, but it was still a fabulous effort."
State this weekend
The state team competition starts at 2 p.m. Friday, March 3, with individual events held at 11:15 a.m. Saturday, March 4.
FMOW as usual will receive a challenge for the title from conference rival and the 2016 state runner-up, the co-op from Kenosha. Also, Greater Metro/North Shore Conference champ Brookfield has been posting some very strong marks and is also definitely in contention, Moore said.
"We know we have to be on the top of our game," Moore said, "because we respect both Kenosha and Brookfield a great deal. If we want to do this, we have to put our best foot forward."
Overall, FMOW will be seeking its sixth title in seven years.
Competing in individual state events will be Abigail Missiaen in the all-around, the uneven bars, the balance beam and vault; her sister Elizabeth in the all-around, vault, bars, and floor exercise; Rebecca Koronkowski on vault and bars; Kathryn Pecha on vault; and Krystal Nelson in the all-around.
FMOW scored 147.075 points for its victory in the sectional, while Kenosha earned the other state team berth with a 146.75 score. Waukesha was a distant third with 137.4.
Elizabeth Missiaen had the only individual win for the local co-op, as she claimed the bars with a 9.425 score. She was part of an extremely strong all-around contingent for FMOW; Abigail Missiaen was third (37.6), Elizabeth Missiaen fourth (37.25) and Nelson fifth (35.9).
FMOW also had two others qualify for state on bars with Abigail Missiaen taking fourth (9.1) and Koronkowski fifth (8.9).
The vault was also an impressive event for FMOW as four gymnasts qualified for individual state with Abigail Missiaen third (9.8), Elizabeth Missiaen fourth (9.5) and Koronkowski fifth (9.3) and Pecha (9.3) tied for fifth.
On beam, Abigail Missiaen advanced to state with a runner-up score of 9.5. On floor, Elizabeth Missiaen claimed her spot with a third-place effort of 9.35. Three other FMOW gymnasts just missed individual spots in the event; Abigail Missiaen was sixth (9.2), Nelson seventh (9.125) and Koronkowski eighth (9.075).
Moore said Abigail Missiaen has stepped up big for the team.
"She's a senior, and our strongest leader," Moore said. "She really sets the pace for us. She works hard in the gym (in practice), and she has a real team-first attitude. She has brought the team together nicely."