The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Three Blugold gymnasts advance to nationals in Pennsylvania in two weeks

Blugold gymnastics places 6th out of eight teams at WIAC championship
Photo by Rossellin Gaitán
UW-Eau Claire gymnasts in full spirits after their record-setting meet.

The UW-Eau Claire gymnastics team placed sixth out of eight teams at Saturday’s WIAC Conference Championship meet, scoring 187.050 points at the meet. 

The Blugolds also had three gymnasts, including first-year Meghan Dahlin, third-year Andrea O’Connell and third-year Harriet Toth, who advanced to the NGCA Nationals meet on Saturday, March 23 in Collegeville, Pennsylvania. 

Toth also received conference honors as the 2024 WIAC Gymnast of the Year and earned a fourth place finish in the all-around competition with an overall score of 37.625. 

Coming into the meet, fourth-year Kelsey Donovan and her teammates had a good sense of confidence in how they would stack up against conference competition and wanted to give a better performance in comparison to last year.

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“We did better than we did last year against our competition, which was a goal of ours,” Donovan said. “I think we showed them what we are capable of in a few of our events and showed them how much love we have for each other.” 

The day started on the beam as first-year Linnea Vasali posted a top 10 finish for the meet with a score of 9.600, fourth-year Tia Ravara place 22nd with a score of 9.475 and Toth placing 27th for the meet with a score of 9.400. 

With the floor portion of the meet, the Blugolds kept the momentum rolling as second-year Molly Campbell tied for 13th with a score of 9.625, having first-year Addie Gallun follow up with a score of 9.575. 

The improvement from the last meet for the floor portion was something that head coach Jessie DeZiel was pleased with the improvement from the last meet for the Blugolds, but they still have room to improve.  

“Our floor routines were very good from today,” DeZiel said. “We just had too many really small mistakes that we made today.” 

Something that DeZiel also mentioned in finding room for improvement is not letting the noise of the away crowd get into the heads of the team.

“With the environment there, it’s not like any other competition we’ve been to this year,” DeZiel said. “It’s so loud there and exciting so there’s a little bit of pressure added to the performance and that’s where those little mistakes happen.” 

Despite the season wrapping up with the nationals meet approaching, Kelsey Donovan and the team are optimistic going forward with everyone from this year’s team returning next year along with the incoming first-year class of gymnasts. 

“We have our full roster returning next year and then some incoming freshmen,” Donovan said. “So there’s some room for improvement next year and just makes us hungry for more and to place higher at next year’s conference meet.” 

The culture that the team has developed throughout the year is something that Toth and the team have seen the most growth in since the beginning of the season. 

“We walked into this season as strangers with new people coming in every year and by the end of the season, we’re family and best friends,” Toth said. “It speaks to what athletics does for someone because it’s not about the gymnastics, it’s about the journey.” 

The journey continues for Toth, O’Connell, and Dahlin as they’ll be competing for the Blugolds at the national meet on March 23 in Pennsylvania. 

Mikalofsky can be reached at [email protected].

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