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

Meet the Blugold Gymnast who ended the season by receiving three awards

Eau Claire’s own Harriet Toth concludes the season with a bang
Toth on the beam during competition. Photo by Austin Tanner used with permission.

The college gymnastics season ended with the NCGA (National Collegiate Gymnastics Association) nationals meet on March 23. One Blugold athlete walked away from the event with not one, but three awards to her name.

Blugold Harriet Toth was the recipient of the NCGA All-American Award, the NCGA Regional Athlete Award and the WIAC Gymnast of the Year Award.

Toth is a third-year student at UW-Eau Claire majoring in behavior analysis with a family studies minor from Saskatchewan, Canada. She has been participating in gymnastics for almost her whole life.

“I’ve been in gymnastics since I was about 11 months old,” said Toth. “A parent taught classes and I started competing when I was about six. I’ve never taken a break.”

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Despite competing in gymnastics for so long, one moment in particular of her gymnastic career sticks out to Toth. She still remembers her first college meet as a Blugold.

“I was eighteen. I was so nervous,” she said. “I remember my vault training was really bad leading up to that meet. I went up and did the vault and scored a 9.5. It felt good to start my college career like that. I think about that vault every meet.”

Toth is not the first of her family to attend UW-Eau Claire. In fact, she’s not the first student-athlete of her family at the school, as her mother was a Blugold diver in the ‘90s. 

Off the mat, Toth enjoys her life on campus. She named going on walks and to coffee shops with her friends as pastimes, as well as reading fantasy books. She mentioned the “Harry Potter” series and the book “Children of Blood and Bone as favorites. 

Toth said she is confident she made the right choice for school.

“It’s been amazing,” she said. “The time of my life, basically. Looking back, I wouldn’t change my decision.”

Once she’s finished her time at UW-Eau Claire, though, she doesn’t plan on continuing competition.

“I want to start my career in behavior analysis,” Toth said. “I think 22 years in a sport and finishing off with my college career is a good way to end. Staying involved in the sport is something I’m looking forward to doing, but not necessarily as an athlete.”

The WIAC Gymnast of the Year is nominated and voted on by the coaches in the conference. Coach Jessie DeZiel nominated Toth for the award. Performance both on and off the mat affected the decision to nominate her.

“Obviously she has grown as an athlete, but even more so as a leader in the gym,” said DeZiel. “She wants to get better every week. As a coach, it’s like a dream.”

The NCGA All-American Award is for athletes who performed all-around at nationals and scored in the top eight. Toth won fifth.

Toth also received the NCGA Regional Athlete of the Year Award. The title is somewhat self-explanatory, being awarded to the top-performing athlete of a region.

DeZiel highlighted Toth as both an athlete and a leader for the team.

“She’s a very consistent competitor for the team,” said DeZiel. “It’s something I know our other athletes rely on. Her consistency this year was unbelievable. She’s really someone everyone can count on.”

Though Toth does not plan to continue performing as an athlete, she still intends to stay involved with the sport. She plans to help organize, coach and judge gymnastics meets in the future. 

“Don’t knock it until you try it,” said Toth. “Learning about gymnastics might be hard, but watching it’s easy. Come watch if you’re interested.”

Tolbert can be contacted at [email protected].

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