The Viroqua cooperative gymnastics team gained a wealth of experience last weekend as the young Blackhawks competed at the team portion of the WIAA Division 2 State Tournament hosted by Wisconsin Rapids High School, Friday, March 2.

It marked the ninth time in the last 10 years that the Viroqua program has participated at the state tournament level, a testament to the hard work and dedication of the team’s athletes and coaching staff, led by head coach Darcy McClelland and assistants Val Lind and Ashley Strasser.

“Overall I can say that I am so proud of how hard these girls worked. From the beginning of the season, the scores did not show that we would make it out of our sectionals, but they worked hard and showed me that they cared and wanted to be successful,” McClelland said.

The Blackhawks, with just two seniors and no juniors on the roster, struggled a bit on the big stage of the state event, placing 10th with a score of 122.7833. Whitefish Bay won the event with a 141.7167; River Falls was next with a 140.550.

“In no way were we suppose to be on top, but probably not even suppose to be at state, but with the determination that these girls had they made it,”McClelland said. “At state we learned a lot about each other and they learned a little about me, that I can get upset and can show them a little tough love that I have shared with my own children…our expectations should always be high…I believe these young ladies have a bright future ahead of them and I know that they know that I care for each one of them.”

“We will miss our senior leadership and great attitude that we received from Hailey Gillen and Madrona Murdock,” McClelland said.

But it was a group of five underclassmen — three freshmen, Katrina Koppa (Viroqua High School), Kayden Cramer (Cashton High School) and Kenzy Kreuzer (De Soto High School) and a pair of Cashton High School sophomores, Lydia Korn and Gracey Mlsna — who led the way for the team.

Vault was the strongest event for the Blackhawks with three scores in the eights, including an 8.90 from Korn, 8.50 from Cramer and Koppa’s 8.0. Gillen added a 7.90 and Mlsna a 7.70 for a team total of 33.30 in the vault.

Next best event for the Hawks was the floor exercise with a 30.933 led by Korn’s 8.850, followed by Cramer with a 7.70, Mlsna 7.333, Koppa 7.050 and Gillen 6.95.

The team total of 29.90 on the balance beam came from an 8.550 from Korn, a 7.433 by Koppa, a 7.033 by Kreuzer and a 6.733 by Murdock. 736

Rounding out the team scoring, the Hawks recorded a 28.65 on the uneven bars led by the 7.733 by Cramer, a 7.65 by Korn, a 7.0 from Mlsna, a 6.267 by Koppa and a 5.767 by Kreuzer.

Individual state tournament

The next day a pair of freshmen and a sophomore represented the team in the individual portion of the WIAA Division 2 State Tournament, also hosted by Wisconsin Rapids High School.

Korn capped off her outstanding season earning a spot on the podium with a fifth-place finish in the floor exercise with a sparkling 9.067. Korn became the fourth Blackhawk in the history of the program to medal on the floor.

“On the individual side I saw a very confident and driven sophomore Lydia Korn,” McClelland said. “She has grown so much as a young lady and a great gymnast.”

Korn came close to medaling in every competition, placing in the top 11 in all events, including eigth on the beam with an 8.917, ninth on the vault 8.90, 11th on the bars 8.267 and finished seventh in the all-around with a solid 35.150. Samantha Krueger, a River Falls High School senior, won the individual all-around with a 36.950.

Cramer scored an 8.167 in the individual vault competition and Koppa a 7.317 on the balance beam.

“Kayden and Katrina capped off their season at the state meet…you can’t ask for more than that,” McClelland said. “Next year they will have more of a sense of what it feels like to be on the big stage and will be more prepared to be competitive at the state level.”


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