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Flipping out

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Gazette staff
February 28, 2008
— Janesville’s high school gymnasts are set to perform in the spotlight of the WIAA Division 1 state meet at Wisconsin Rapids.

Individual competition is at 5:40 p.m. Friday, and team event is at noon on Saturday. Both are at the Lincoln High School Field House.


There are 10 teams in each division. Janesville Craig finished second (132.6) in the Middleton Sectional to earn its first state team berth since 2000.


“At the end of last year, we set a team goal of making it to state,” Craig coach Jean Welch said. “We have met that goal, and it’s pretty cool.’’


Sophomore Katharine Cullen led Craig at Middleton, finishing fourth on the balance beam and fifth in floor exercise en route to a fifth-place finish in the all-around. That places her in individual state competition in each of those events.


Cullen was eighth at state in floor exercise last season and qualified on the balance beam.


Meanwhile, Janesville Parker freshman Erika Whitson tied for third place in floor exercise and finished fourth on the uneven bars at Middleton to earn her state debut as a qualifier in both events.


In Division 2, Elkhorn freshman Allie Phillips will compete in every event Friday after winning titles in uneven bars, vault, floor exercise and the all-around at the Mount Horeb Sectional.


Whitson is the Big Eight balance beam champion. She finished second in the all-around at the conference meet.


“She will give it her best and go for a personal best in each event,” Parker coach Cathy Lehmann said of Whitson. “Erika is very talented and focused.’’


Welch said Cullen should benefit from her freshman year at state.


“She has all the elements,” Welch said. “She just has to do it clean and show it to the judges.’’


On Saturday, Cullen will be joined by senior teammates Allisyn Hall, Amanda Ellenberger, and Abby Mayer. Sophomores Nicole Buggs and Lauren Moran and freshman Breanna Moe round out Craig’s team effort.


Welch said all the Cougars will compete in one or more events.


The Cougars posted a 133.5 for their best score this season. The co-op team of Waukesha West/North/South scored 145.4 last season at state to win its second consecutive title.


Welch said judges will be critical at state, and it’s important for the gymnasts to turn in sharp performances.


“We are going to have to clean it up some and be more consistent,” Welch said.


Welch said the Cougars are not likely to score in the 140s, but they are capable of competing with the other state qualifiers.


“It’s not like we don’t belong there,” she said.



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