MOUNT HOREB — This year was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Platteville/Belmont/Lancaster gymnastics team.
After losing four talented seniors that formed the core of a Hillmen program that made four consecutive state championship appearances who could blame the naysayers for doubting this year’s young P/B/L squad?
But led by senior Danielle Jentz and an emerging crop of underclassmen coach Jessica Hill’s 2013–14 Platteville/Belmont/Lancaster team kept the program tradition alive.
The Hillmen scored 127.775 points and placed second at Thursday’s WIAA Division 2 Mount Horeb Sectional to earn a five straight trip to team state.
Mount Horeb won the sectional title with a stellar score of 141.225. Milton finished third at 124.2750.
The top two teams at each of the five Division 2 sectionals around the state qualified for the 10-team Division 2 team state championships, that will be held Friday at the Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln Fieldhouse beginning at 2 p.m.
The top five individuals in each of the four rotations at sectionals also qualified for individual state. The state individual competition will be held Saturday beginning at 11 a.m.
Jentz qualified as an individual in the vault with a fourth-place score of 8.650. Freshman Grace Hammermeister also qualified with a fifth-place finish in the floor exercise (8.70).
“Tom, Danielle and I are excited as coaches to take such a young team to state,” said coach Hill, referring to assistant coaches Tom Hill and Danielle Hentrich. “This will be a good learning experience for their future as a young talented team.”
P/B/L’s team rotation features Jentz, the lone senior, juniors Elissa Bahr and Regan Geigle, juniors Alyssa Bainbridge, Marissa Marino and Jenna Phillips, and freshmen Grave Hammermeister, Maddie Rand and Lauren Tucker.
The Hillmen, who finished second in the Southwest Wisconsin Conference to River Valley this year, began Thursday’s sectional on the bars and produced their best routines of the year.
“We do not have anyone on bars that has a high level routine or a low level routine,” said Hill. “What we have is a team that has a mid-range skill level but we performed those skills well.”
Jentz led the way with a 7.60 routine on the bars.
The Hillmen continued on to the balance beam, usually a team strength, but several falls on Thursday lowered their overall team score.
The Platteville tri-op rebounded with solid routines on the floor exercise, led by Hammermeister’s individual state qualifying fifth-place finish.
Heading into its fourth and final rotation the Hillmen were tied for second with Milton.
“It made me a bit nervous, but I had a good ideal we were going to be going to state,” explained Hill. “Our last event was vault and their last event was bars. Team scores are typically higher on vault that bars. This held true at sectionals.”
Jentz led the way with a fourth-place 8.560 vault and Platteville/Lancaster/Belmont was headed back to state.
WIAA Division 2 Mount Horeb Sectional
(from Thursday, Feb. 27 @ Mount Horeb)
Team Scores — 1.Mount Horeb 141.225, 2.Platteville/Belmont/Lancaster 127.775, 3.Milton 124.2750, 4.Southwestern/Cuba City 123.575, 5.Dodgeville/Mineral Point 116.775, 6.Whitewater 109.90, 7.Jefferson 108.675.
individual state qualifiers
Vault — 4.Danielle Jentz 8.650. Floor Exercise — 5(tie).Grace Hammermeister 8.70.
other sectional results
All-around — 6.Jenna Phillips 32.650, 9.Alyssa Bainbridge 31.175, 10.Grace Hammermeister 30.850.
Uneven Bars — 7.Jentz 7.60, 10.Phillips 7.475, 14.Bainbridge 7.30, 15.Marino 7.175, 22.Hammermeister 6.10. Balance Beam — 6.Phillips 8.025, 9.Bainbridge 8.025, 10(tie).Hammermeister 8.00, 12.Regan Geigle 7.825, 20.Lauren Tucker 7.250. Floor Exercise — 5(tie).Hammermeister 8.700, 7.Phillips 8.575, 13.Jentz 7.950, 15.Bainbridge 7.90, 27.Elissa Bahr 6.90. Vault — 4.Jentz 8.650, 13.Phillips 8.150, 16(tie).Hammermeister 8.050, 19.Bainbridge 7.950, 28.Marissa Marino 7.650.