A year after finishing eighth at the conference championship, UW-Stout stands on top of the league after winning the 2019 WIAC Gymnastics Championship/NCGA West Regional on Saturday at Johnson Fieldhouse.
The Blue Devils took a first in every individual event — the first time that has happened by an individual team since 1988 — to win the title by more than one point, scoring a school team record with 190.225 points. Stout finished eighth at the 2018 meet and are the first team in conference history to go from eighth to first in one season. The conference gymnastics title is the first in school history. Stout’s previous best finish at the conference meet was third several times, as recently as 2017.
Coming into the season, the coaching staff thought this might be a building year, but saw a spark during fall practice.
“We figured out there was something special with this team this fall,” Blue Devil head coach Becky Beaulieu said and the team proved it tonight. “They very much have that championship culture. Their energy and their vibe controlled this meet.”
And that championship vibe, determination and grit came down to the eighth and last rotation of the evening. The Blue Devils held a six-tenths lead over UW-Oshkosh, which was in the same rotation as the Blue Devils. Stout was on the balance beam and Oshkosh was on the vault. The Blue Devils scored a 47.475 on the balance beam, while Oshkosh scored a 46.800 on the vault. Oshkosh finished second in the meet with a 188.950 and UW-Whitewater scored a 187.425 to finish third.
Brooke Terry led the way for the Blue Devils on the balance beam with a 9.750, matching her best score of the season as she competed in the sixth position. Freshman Britney Wolfe turned in a solid performance, chalking up a 9.725 to finish in a tie for second.
Terry, who had not competed in the all-around since Feb. 1 at the John Zuerlein Invitational, piled up a score of 38.075 to win the all-around, only the second time in her career she has broken 38. For the evening, Terry was fourth on the vault (9.500), 13th on the uneven bars (9.400) and scored a 9.425 on the floor exercise.
“Brooke looked a lot stronger in practice the past couple of weeks,” Beaulieu said about reinserting Terry back into the all-around role.
Stout opened the afternoon on the floor exercise, and served notice right away, setting a school record on the event with a 48.350. Three Blue Devils set personal-best scores in the event. Mikala Bugge scored a career-best 9.825 and that top score would hold throughout the rest of the competition. Bugge tied for the top prize with Hamline’s Darby Slater.
Belle Ihde was in a three-way tie for third on the floor exercise with a 9.750. Emma Sirjord placed 19th with a personal-best score of 9.600.
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Shadae Boone set a personal-best in winning the vault with a 9.725. Sierra Beaver and Mallary Dick finished first and second on the uneven bars with Beaver scoring a 9.625 and Dick a 9.550. Beaver became the first Blue Devil to win a conference uneven bars title, breaking a four-year streak by UW-La Crosse gymnasts.
Bugge would add a third place finish in the all-around (37.750) and a fifth place finish on the vault (9.475) to earn three all-conference awards. The top-six individuals in each event are recognized as all-conference.
Stout earned three all-conference spots on the vault, two on the uneven bars, two on the balance beam, two on the floor exercise and two on the all-around for a total of 11. Boone became the fourth Blue Devil to win a vault title and the second consecutive champion following Shaquilla Payne’s 2018 title.
Beaver is the first Stout gymnast to win an uneven bars title. Terry is the fifth Blue Devil to win a balance beam championship and the fourth to win an all-around title. Bugge is the fourth Blue Devil to win the floor exercise.
Rounding out the scoring, UW-La Crosse was fourth with 186.550, Winona State University (Minn.) fifth with 185.675, Gustavus Adolphus College (Minn.) sixth with 184.725, Hamline University (Minn.) seventh with 184.275 and UW-Eau Claire eighth with 183.975.
The conference championship also served as the West Region qualifier for the NCGA Championship that will be hosted by UW-Oshkosh on March 23. UW-Stout, UW-Oshkosh and UW-Whitewater earned spots into the national event by placing in the top three.
Seven members of the UW-Stout gymnastics team were selected to the 2019 National Collegiate Gymnastics Association (NCGA) All Championship Team following the conclusion of the two regional meets on Saturday afternoon.
Shadae Boone was selected for the vault and the floor exercise, Brooke Terry was selected for the balance beam and the vault, Mikala Bugge was selected on the floor exercise and vault, Sierra Beaver and Mallary Dick were selected on the uneven bars, Belle Ihde was selected on the floor exercise and Britney Wolfe was selected on the balance beam.
The newly-implemented All-Championship Team recognizes the top 10 from each region, on each event, based on the top five finishers in each regional tournament, plus the top five highest season average scores going into the tournament. The All-Championship Team will be recognized during the award ceremony of the National Championship at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh on March 23.
Non-team qualifying student-athletes that are on the NCGA All-Championship Team are also Individual National Tournament Qualifiers. The qualifying teams from the West are UW-Stout, UW-Oshkosh and UW-Whitewater.