UWO gymnastics team wins WIAC championship


Jacob Link / Advance-Titan — The UWO gymnastics team celebrates their first-place finish.

Nolan Swenson, Co-Sports Editor

UW Oshkosh will return to the Gymnastics National Collegiate Gymnastics Association (NGCA) championship after taking first in the NGCA regional for the third year in a row on Saturday.

The Titans competed against UW-Whitewater, UW-Stout, UW-La Crosse, UW-Eau Claire, Winona State University, Hamline University and Gustavus Adolphus College.

The team won with a score of 193.1, their highest score of the season so far, as well as the second highest score in team history. The Titans beat out second place UW-La Crosse by 1.25 points; La Crosse had previously won against UWO.

Coach Lauren Karnitz said that the 193.1 was a record-breaking score in the WIAC, and that the performance came from many factors.

“193.1 was the highest WIAC championship score ever,” she said. “We were fortunate that they had a good day and that they were confident, it turned out to be record breaking.”

Karnitz said that this winning mentality comes from a focus on effort, not results.

“There’s a saying, if you worry about winning you won’t,” she said. “If you focus on doing your best, you will. That’s what we try to take into every situation to keep athletes cool and collected. We worry about doing our gymnastics and if we win because of that, it’s awesome. That’s what we’ve been focusing on, not the idea we have to be something we’re not.”

UWO had previously lost to UW La Crosse, 192.0-188.6, but was able to reconcile that loss by taking the regionals. Emily Buffington said that this is a culmination of the adversity the team has faced and overcome.

“We’ve been working all season for this and coming into ourselves,” she said. “When we did compete at La Crosse compared to now, we’ve had a lot of adversity and we’re finally finding our way.”

In the vault, UWO had a score of 48.575, taking the high score for that performance in the tournament. Buffington was the high scorer for the team; however, there was only a difference of less than 0.5 between Buffington and Trinity Sawyer, who finished with a score of 9.525.

The Titans lowest scoring event was the bars, with a score of 47.175. Buffington took the lead in this event as well. The event was one of two where they fell behind to UW-La Crosse.

The beam was UWO’s best event, scoring 48.825, just 1.175 points shy of perfect. Delaney Cienkus scored the highest in this event with a score of 9.825. To back up the high team score, four other Titans scored in the low to high 9.7’s.

Floor was also a strong event for the Titans, scoring 48.525, which was surpassed by UW-Whitewater and UW-La Crosse by .05 and .025 points, respectively. The high scorer of the event from the Titans was Rahdea Jarvis, with a score of 9.775.

After the meet, several Titans won WIAC awards. Jarvis was named a Judy Kruckman Scholar-Athlete, Reanna McGibboney was named Kwik Trip Newcomer of the Year and Kennedy Springer was the Oshkosh member of the All-Sportsmanship Team.

Buffington also broke her own program all-around record of 38.725 with a score of 38.8. She said that topping that record was special, only weeks after setting the previous record.

Karnitz said that until nationals, the team will focus on improving their performances and working toward being the best versions of themselves.

“We can always be better,” she said. “It’s going to be difficult, but we have a lot of the same judges at the next meet so we know what to expect. I’m asking our athletes to go in and do their stuff to the best of their ability. I don’t know if we’ll beat 193.1. I don’t know if we’ll … come out on top. But somebody has to win, so hopefully our best gets us there.”

Looking forward, UWO will attend the NCGA championships alongside UW-La Crosse and UW-Stout on March 25, hosted at Winona State University in Minnesota. Buffington said that despite the last win, the team will focus on the moment and improving.

“We’re really excited and happy to go to nationals,” Buffington said. “But we’re trying to stay in the moment and not think too far ahead of ourselves. We’ll get back into the gym as soon as we can. We’ll try to keep it easy and not overwork ourselves because we have two weeks. We’ll go in, do what we need to do and get ready.”