Tags: Feature Sports Story, Sports
Benavides (click for larger version)
December 11, 2012 | 05:33 PMFor the past two seasons, the Burlington/Badger/Wilmot (BBW) gymnastics squad has finished one win shy of state immortality.
It's a new year, though, and three of the state's finest gymnasts could lead the Demons back to the Promised Land.
Last year's Division 1 second-place trophy hurt just a little more. All year long, the Demons shattered state records left and right and took a No. 1 state ranking into the final against Franklin before falling.
The Big Three, junior Jenna Fitzpatrick, younger sister Bailey Fitzpatrick, a sophomore, and Molly Benavides, are back and better than ever. Bailey Fitzpatrick is the defending Division 1 state champion on bars and the all-around, while Benavides won it all on beam last season. Jenna Fitzpatrick placed third in the state on bars. All three are Burlington students.
This year, Jenna is adding the all-around to her repertoire, and all three have implemented a double back on the floor. The high-risk move involves jumping and executing two complete flips before landing.
"Jenna, Bailey and Molly are already ahead of where they were last year at this point," said fifth-year head coach Diane Biedrzycki. "They have new skills and are always looking to improve. Molly's floor routine is quite the show stopper. We will need all three in the all-around. They will all challenge for individual state."
Fresh off a victory Saturday at the Emerald Classic, the state's toughest early-season meet, the Demons are hungry for that elusive state title.
"All the girls believe we can win state," Biedrzycki said. "It's pretty early, but we have more experience. State was such a learning experience last year. It's a different year with a different group. We have a shot to get back to state."
One major difference from last year's squad is depth. The Demons lost Michelle Dankle and Kerry Leonard, two individual state qualifiers from a year ago. Three others are no longer with the team.
Only six Demons are back, and the team must compete with one key newcomer.
Badger junior Robyn Scheuerman returns, but she is slowly being worked back into the lineup after recovering from a sprained ankle. Also, Badger junior Ciara Johnson and Burlington senior Lauren Otter are back. Newcomer Jackie Fiorillo, a Burlington Catholic Central junior who lives in Williams Bay, will provide depth on bars and vault.
"Jackie is already doing very well," Biedrzycki said. "We are very thin on bars. We don't have great depth, so we must keep our top girls healthy. It will be interesting to see how our depth pans out."
Biedrzycki said Otter, Johnson and Fiorillo figure to fill in the fourth varsity spot.
BBW is the three-time defending Southern Lakes Conference and is the clear-cut favorite again. Biedrzycki said the team has a goal to win conference. Biedrzycki said the little things will keep her girls motivated.
"We always find new things each meet to work on," she said. "One meet it may be no falls. Another, it's to connect two jumps."
Biedrzycki said the standout performances of the Big Three will help the fourth and fifth varsity spots step up and perform at a high level.
BBW, who set a state record by reaching the 148 mark last year, opens SLC play Thursday at Waterford.
Same old story
Much like they had done all last year, BBW dominated the competition Saturday in Waterford at the Emerald Classic.
Benavides, who won three medals at the state individual meet as a freshman, tied for first on the vault (9.55), won the floor exercise (9.5), the balance beam (9.15) and the all-around (37.20).
Jenna Fitzpatrick won the uneven bars (9.575) and took fourth in the all-around (36.525). Despite performing with a sprained ankle, Bailey Fitzpatrick placed second on the bars (9.45), tied for second on the beam (9.075) and finished third in the all-around (36.675).
BBW crushed the competition with a 145.725, good for a state season-high, something the Demons made a habit of last season.
Franklin, the two-time defending state champion, posted a 142.8 to take second in its first meet of the season.