Whitefish Bay — Over Christmas Eve, New Year's Eve, and all the other days between, the members of the Whitefish Bay girls gymnastics did their homework and practiced over the holiday break, honing skills and working on new techniques.
And it paid off spectacularly on Saturday, when the Blue Dukes powered their way to an impressive score and the championship in the six-team Mount Horeb Invitational.
"Every practice, every kid was there," said Blue Duke coach Mary Liniewski, "and we were able to get a lot of work done and then we tested it all out this weekend."
The Blue Dukes turned in a score of 140.525 to overpower fellow WIAA state Division 2 contender Platteville/Belmont/Lancaster (1:35.825).
"That was a huge relief, because they had posted a 141 earlier this year, and it wasn't our best meet," Liniewski said. "We had a few rough spots, especially on vault and bars, but on beam we had five sticks, and there were other good things that we did too."
Team leader Maggie Anderson easily won the all-around as well as the vault (9.4), bars (9.35), and beam (9.0). She was also second in floor exercise with a 9.1.
Bay took four of the first five places on beam, as Kelly Danek was third (8.875), while Tessa Hansen fourth and Sofie Yang tied for fourth (8.825). On bars, Yang was third (8.85) and Danek fifth (8.35) while Danek was fifth on vault (8.675).
What pleased Liniewski the most was how the team handled itself on what was an overnight trip (they came in on Friday night).
"I was really proud of them," she said. "This is a special group of kids and parents. They work hard for me and post great scores and I can't say enough about how they conducted themselves and their sportsmanship.
"I tell you, when this group graduates, it will be a sad day for me."
The Blue Dukes areoff until Jan. 22 when they head off for the Arrowhead Invitational.
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