UWO flipping out in WIAC

Jacob Link, Co-Sports Editor

UWO women's gymnastics
Courtesy of UWO Athletics
The gymnastic team poses after their away victory at Whitewater. UWO has been the defending champions of the WIAC title.

The UW Oshkosh gymnastics team won back-to-back Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) titles Saturday at the Kachel Fieldhouse in Whitewater.
Sophomore Emily Buffington won two events as the UW Oshkosh gymnastics team claimed back-to-back Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference titles Saturday at the Kachel Fieldhouse in Whitewater.
The Titans scored 192.3 points, a new school record, to narrowly edge UW-Whitewater but less than a point. The two teams entered the final exercise tied at 144.55 until Oshkosh put up 47.75 points on the balance beam to capture its 16th WIAC Championship in program history.
“We were not able to look at the scores at all besides our individual scores when the judges would flash it up so we didn’t know we were tied,” Buffington said. “So we just went into it and hoped for the best.”
UWO established a school and NCAA Division III record by scoring 48.8 points on the uneven parallel bars. Buffington finished first in the event, receiving a 9.85 score from the judges to win her first WIAC individual title on the bars. Three gymnasts tied for second in the event as Oshkosh’s Kaylie Berens, Rahdea Jarvis, along with UW-La Crosse’s Kerrie Legault, scored a 9.775.
“It was insane,” Buffington said. “I didn’t think that would happen but we had a really good bar rotation, so the energy from the team really helped everyone do their best.”
Jarvis said it felt good to win the conference title, especially being able to do it in the year after COVID-19 shut the season down.
“We started out the season not really knowing what was going to happen,” Jarvis said. “So being able to actually do it and achieve our goal of winning [the conference] was really nice.”
Oshkosh scored 47.775 in the Vault event, coming in third behind UWL and UWW. Buffington won another individual title, receiving a 9.875 score from the judges for her routine. Senior Emily Gilot tied for second with four other gymnasts, scoring 9.775 points on the vault for the Titans.
“The vault [routine] was so crazy,” Buffington said. “I don’t know how I stuck that landing. We had a good warmup but we had a couple of falls so to come out and have a high score to help the team was really great.”
The Titans came in third as a team on the floor exercise, receiving a 47.975 score from the judges, finishing behind Whitewater and La Crosse. Trinity Sawyer scored a 9.700 for her routine, tying for fourth with Andrea O’Connell from UW-Eau Claire and Jenna Danninger from UWL. Sawyer was the highest scorer for UWO in the event. Oshkosh’s Olivia Keller tied with two other gymnasts for seventh on the floor exercise with a score of 9.675. Rachel Chesley from UWL received a 9.825 for her routine as she took home the individual title for the event.
“We have had a lot of adversity this year, so to come back and be back-to-back champions is awesome,” Buffington said. “This was my first conference championship so to come out on top as a team is really cool.”
Anna Zoromski led the way for Oshkosh in the balance beam by scoring 9.625 points in her fourth-place finish. Kaira Hammond finished fifth in the event, receiving a 9.600 for her routine as UWO took first place as a team with a score of 47.750. La Crosse’s Emma Grant won the individual title on the balance beam with a score of 9.750.
Emily North from UWW won the All-Around competition with a score of 38.325. There were no Titans competing in the All-Around event.
The WIAC championship meet was also the National Collegiate Gymnastics Association West Regional (NCGA). Behind Oshkosh in the championship standings was Whitewater, La Crosse, UW-Stout, UW-Eau Claire, Winona State, Gustavus Adolphus and Hamline University. The top three teams, along with several qualified gymnasts, will move on to the NCGA Championship meet.
“Going to the National Championship is really exciting,” Jarvis said. “I think we’re going into it like we go into every other meet with the hope that we bring home a trophy at the end and add another year to our National Championship banners.”
Buffington said the team is going to work hard on fixing the little mistakes they made, and thinks the team will hit the ground running in the NCGA Championship.
“This is redemption for two years ago when we were champions and never got the opportunity to play,” Buffington said. “So I think we are going to try our hardest and prepare the best we can.”
UWO, who is ranked second in Division III by RoadToNationals.com, went unbeaten against its Division III opponents this season and will compete in the NCGA Championship on March 26 at the Ithaca College Ben Light Gymnasium in Ithaca, New York.