UWO wins 48th national title

Jacob Link, Co-Sports Editor

The UW Oshkosh gymnastics team took home its fifth national championship with a Division III-record team score of 194.1 on Saturday at the National Collegiate Gymnastics Association (NCGA) D-III Championship in Ithaca, New York.

UWO’s Emily Buffington won the uneven parallel bars event to claim her first individual NCGA title and the 13th individual title for the Titans.
“We just stuck with each other,” Buffington said. “We didn’t focus on any other teams; we didn’t look at our phones or any of that because we were trying to stay in the moment.”

Buffington scored a 9.8 for her routine on the uneven bars, tying for first place with Taylor Bushey of University of New York at Brockport, Winter Osborne of Springfield College and Kerrie Legault of UW-La Crosse. Senior Rahdea Jarvis took fifth in the event with a score of 9.75, joining Buffington in receiving All-America honors on the bars. The Titans came in first as a team in the event, receiving a combined score of 48.5 from the judges.

Jacob Link / Advance-Titan

Buffington said she did not expect to finish first on the uneven bars.
“I don’t think it was my best routine,” she said. “I worked hard all season and to hit a routine and come out first, it’s awesome.”
Trinity Sawyer was one of two Titan gymnasts to receive All-America honors on the floor exercise by coming in third with a score of 9.8. Her score tied the school record set in 2017 by Bailey Finin.
Faith Mylin of UW-Whitewater, Emmie White and Kirsten Paultre of Brockport also scored a 9.8, joining Sawyer on the podium. UWO’s Emily Gilot finished eighth with a 9.7 to receive All-America honors in her final year. Kyra Figurelli of Brockport came in first with a score of 9.9. Oshkosh came in second as a team behind Brockport with a score of 48.625.

Sawyer followed up with a fifth-place finish in the vault with a score of 9.75, earning another All-America Honor at the NCGA Championship. Mikala Bugge of UW-Stout and Kennedy O’Connor of Winona State took the top spot in the event, earning scores of 9.8 from the judges. As a team, Oshkosh finished tied for first with UWL with both teams scoring a 48.4. UWO set a program record for its team score in the event.

Olivia Keller became UWO’s sixth All-American after she scored a 9.775 on the balance beam to finish tied with five other gymnasts for sixth place in the event. Sarah Knetzke of UWW came in first on the beam with a score of 9.875. The Titans finished first as a team with a score of 48.575.

The Titans did not have a participant for the All-Around competition. Emily North of UWW finished in first place, receiving a score of 38.6 from the judges.
The top eight finishers in each event received All-America honors at the NCGA Championship.

Both Buffington and Jarvis said it feels amazing to be national champions.
“It feels incredible, I can’t even explain it,” Jarvis said. “It’s the best feeling in the world.”

“It really is crazy,” Buffington said. “I did not think that was going to happen but I’m so grateful for everything. We went into it not knowing what was going to happen and to come out how we did is just awesome.”

Jarvis said it was everything she could have ever asked for in a senior year.
“We went into my freshman year having a taste of nationals and not doing our best, and I had to wait three years to redeem ourselves,” she said.

Jarvis also said it was unbelievably loud at the gymnasium in Ithaca.
“It was so loud that I couldn’t hear myself think or talk,” she said. “We tried to stay in our own bubble as much as we could, but it was loud and electric with all the screaming and yelling.”

UWO finished atop the final standings with a score of 194.1, a D-III and school record. Brockport, the defending national champion, came in second with a score of 192.6. UWL took third place as a team with a score of 192.575. Ithaca College came in fourth with 192.325 points, UWW finished fifth with 191.975 points and Springfield College (Mass.) finished last with 186.7 points.

UWO previously won national championships in women’s gymnastics at the 1980 Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women, the 1986 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, and the 1989 as well as 2007 NCGA Championships.

The team arrived back in Oshkosh on Monday morning to a welcome home celebration featuring the Titan pep band, Chancellor Andrew Laevitt and Athletic Director Darryl Sims. Many tears were shed as the newly crowned champions reunited with friends and family members. The celebrations lasted long into the afternoon, with each gymnast taking turns with the trophy.

Jarvis said she wants to thank the team for all they have done over her four years at Oshkosh.

“I would like to tell the team, thank you for making the last four years absolutely incredible, and making it the best four years of my life.”