Tags: Feature Sports Story
February 29, 2012 | 07:50 AMBURLINGTON — After the Burlington/Badger/Wilmot gymnastics squad posted a state record score of 150.225 at the Feb. 17 Southern Lakes meet, coach Diane Biedrzycki warned her girls not to expect another 150.
Apparently, the Demons didn't get that message Friday night at the Burlington Sectional.
Even though Franklin posted its season-high total of 148.125, BBW not only shattered their arch-rival's score but also set another standard in Wisconsin high school gymnastics for the second straight week.
The Demons fired off a 150.475, 0.250 higher than their previous state record high score. BBW won its first sectional since 2007 and will compete for its first state title Saturday at the state meet in Wisconsin Rapids. After placing third at state in 2010 and second last year, there's nowhere to go but up for this year's bunch.
Biedrzycki said she needs to stop being surprised by these mind-boggling scores.
"I told the girls not to expect a 150, so to go even higher was surprising," she said. "To have a 150 in back-to-back meets is incredible. The skill level is so high, and girls are hitting at the right time. The neat thing is every single girl has an individual spot, and everyone came through Friday."
BBW dominated each event, taking two of the top three places. Freshman Bailey Fitzpatrick won the all-around with a state-high score of 38.125, and freshman Molly Benavides was second with a 38.050, the second-highest all-around score in the state. Fitzpatrick won the beam (9.55). Benavides won the vault with a season-high 9.825, and she captured the floor title with a 9.65. Bailey's sister, Jenna, nabbed the sectional title on the bars with a 9.65.
All four athletes qualified for the state individual meet, which is Friday in Wisconsin Rapids. Bailey Fitzpatrick will compete in every event and the all-around, while Benavides will compete on everything except bars. Jenna Fitzpatrick qualified on the bars.
Badger senior Kerry Leonard will make her first state trip, qualifying in both the vault and beam. She placed third on the beam with a 9.25 Friday and grabbed third in the vault with a season-high 9.5.
"We work hard in practice, and it benefits our performances," Leonard said. "Friday was one of my best meets of the season. We just go out there and try our best and have fun. I hope to place on my two events. That would be a great end to my senior year."
As for team goals, Leonard didn't hesitate. It's state title or bust.
"We want to finally win state and stay undefeated all season," she said.
Benavides, a Lyons native who attends Burlington High School, is focused on improvement. She said Friday was amazing.
"It's such a great feeling when you get that high of a score," Benavides said. "That's the prize when you practice a lot and know what you're doing. My goals for this weekend is to get another team high score and beat the state record officially. My individual goal is to beat my personal best. And that's what I plan to do."
Team chemistry has played a big role in the team's success.
"This year our team is the closest we have ever been," Leonard said.
"To us, grade or age doesn't matter," said Benavides. "We're like family."
Biedrzycki said the individual and state meets will be different.
"The individual meet is so much about handling nerves," she said. "It's tough to go in and perform. It's different for freshmen. But we should do well and everyone has a chance to medal."
Ten teams will vie for the state title. But it could be a two-horse race. With BBW's 150 and Franklin's 148, the next-highest qualifying score was 141. Biedrzycki is hoping for revenge on Franklin, the defending state champs.
"I have no reason to doubt them," Biedrzycki said of her record-setting girls. "They've been doing it for weeks. The girls don't feel pressure, they just go out and have fun."