After losing three key contributors from last year’s state qualifying team to graduation, the Viroqua co-op gymnastics team, with just two seniors and no juniors on the roster, will rely heavily on underclassmen to find success this year.
Graduating seniors included Faith Gillen (individual and WIAA team state qualifier four years), Maggie Shellhorn (team state qualifier four years and individual qualifier in 2017) and Paula Fanta (team state qualifier two years).
The Blackhawks, who finished third in the Coulee Conference last year and qualified for the WIAA state tournament as a sectional runner-up, will rely heavily on a pair of sophomores. Lydia Korn (Cashton High School) advanced to the state tournament last year as both an individual and a team qualifier, and Gracey Mlsna (Cashton High School) competed at state as a member of the co-op team.
Seniors Hailey Gillen and Madrona Murdock, who have been chosen as team captains for the current season, also return as members of the 2017 state qualifying team.
“It is really hard to predict your season…it really depends on your athletes,” said Viroqua head coach Darcy McClelland “They need to believe in themselves and each other. They need to jell as a team.” With that thought in mind, McClelland, entering her seventh season as head coach and 15th year with the program, has selected this as a motto for her team: “Those that rely on their teammates and want the best for each other will succeed and shine at the end.”
Gillen and Murdock, as team captains, have stuck to the philosophy of their coach of supporting one another and say that one of their goals is “to be best friends with all their teammates.”
Sophomore Brandi Aide and freshmen Katrina Koppa, Flynn La Maire, Ava Murdock and Kiara Yttri, all of Viroqua, and Kayden Kramer (Cashton) and Kenzy Kreuzer (De Soto) complete the Viroqua co-op team roster.
McClelland, assisted by Val Lind and Ashley Strasser, looks to the West Salem co-op to be strong again this year but sees the young Viroqua team “getting stronger as the season goes on.”
The Viroqua co-op team is comprised of athletes from Cashton, De Soto and host Viroqua high schools.