Gymnasts close season with loss

The UW Oshkosh gymnastics team ended its regular season with a close loss against UW-Eau Claire with scores of 185.95 to 184.675. Despite the loss, this marked the fifth-consecutive meet in which the Titans have exceeded 183 points.

UWO sophomore Marisa Scholtens had the only Titan first-place finish Friday night on the balance beam with a score of 9.525. The Titans earned second place on the beam with a score of 9.475 from sophomore Baylee Tkaczuk, who also placed second on the uneven bars with a score of 9.425.

In the all-around event, UWO senior Amanda McBrayer took second and freshman Paige Mayhew took third with scores of 36.725 and 36.00, respectively. McBrayer also placed third on vault with a score of 9.425 and sixth on uneven bars with a score of 9.10, while Mayhew placed fourth on the vault with a score of 9.40.

Titan junior Bailee Hardy placed fifth on the uneven bars with a score of 9.275, and freshman Amira Ali placed fifth on the vault with a score of 9.35 and sixth on the balance beam with a score of 9.225. Ali has placed in the top five for vault at the last three meets and said she has the utmost confidence in the team going into nationals.

“Five-sixths scores count on each event, and my individual score on vault and beam counted toward our total team score,” Ali said. “Now that the falls have happened and are out of the way, we know that we can hit all of our routines this weekend. I really love how our team works together, and I know as long as we do what we do in the gym we will be on our way to nationals in two weeks.”

The Titans had two top-six finishers on the floor with junior Bailey Finin, who placed fourth with a score of 9.50, and freshman Naya Haynes, who hit a new season high score of 9.375, putting her at sixth place. Finin placed in the top four on floor at the last three meets and said she is looking forward to regionals with her team.

“My individual score of a 9.5 was one of the leading contributing scores this past weekend on floor,” Finin said. “One of the most difficult things this year was continuing to grow and get better despite all the injuries the team went through. Teams tend to put a lot of pressure on themselves to do well at regionals, but I believe my team is ready to go into this meet calm and confident. Everyone has gone through pain this year, but it is safe to say we are pushing through to reach our end goal of nationals.”

Head coach Lauren Karnitz said she noticed a positive shift in the team before the meet and believes that change helped propel the team to its successes on Friday.

“They definitely made a change this week [in performance and energy], so I was happy about that,” Karnitz said. “On some events we did better than on others, but we got our regional jitters out at this [Friday’s] meet, which will be good.”

The team now is looking forward to the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championship that will be held in St. Peter, Minnesota on March 4. Karnitz said the leadership shown by the entire team has set up the squad going into the WIAC championship and hopes that this is not the final meet the team has with its current group of seniors.

“The girls have taken their own initiative to keep spirits high and nerves low by having a mini-competition between themselves,” Karnitz said. “Amira was the one who asked me about it, and it was really great to see leadership from someone that young on the team. I really have enjoyed having these seniors.”

The National Collegiate Gymnastics Association West Regional portion of the WIAC Championship will be the determining factor of the team and individual participants for the NCGA Championship, which is held in Springfield, Massachusetts on March 23 and 24. UWO gymnastics must place in the top three spots at regionals in order to qualify for nationals.