‘A once in a lifetime experience’

    Hannah Lewis and Tori Erickson earned All-American honors at the gymnastics national championship

    More stories from Madeline Peterson


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    Blugolds gymnasts Tori Erickson, Hannah Lewis, Ashley Benes and Megan Fayler qualified for nationals.

    Last weekend, the UW-Eau Claire gymnastics team competed in the National Collegiate Gymnastics Association Championships in Springfield, Mass. The meet marked the close of the women’s gymnastics season, and resulted in strong finishes for the four Blugolds competing.

    Tori Erickson, senior, and Hannah Lewis, junior, received All-American honors for their performances in the championships. The recognition was received for the all-around and vault for Erickson, and the individual uneven parallel bars competition for Lewis. Erickson and Lewis were two of four Blugolds to qualify for the championships, with Ashley Benes, first-year, and Megan Fayler, second-year, also competing in the individual events on Saturday.

    Erickson scored a cumulative total score of 38.375 during the all-around competition on Friday, earning her third place and All-American honors going into Saturday. In addition to ties for ninth and 10th place on the floor exercise and balance beam respectively, Erickson scored a 9.675 on vault, earning a seventh place finish and tying the school record.

    “We decreased numbers at practice because I knew it’d be two days in a row of competing, and I wanted to save my body for the competition,” Erickson said of her preparations.

    Erickson enjoyed the sportsmanship between teams at the championships, and while she has finished her time as a UW-Eau Claire gymnast, she believes in the abilities of the Blugolds to qualify for nationals again in the future.

    “It hasn’t really hit me yet that it’s over, but I hope to see the team qualify in the future. I think they have a lot of potential,” Erickson said.

    Lewis received her All-American accolades after tying for fifth on the uneven parallel bars during Saturday’s competition with a score of 9.750. Lewis’ score marked the second time she’d broken the school record this season. This was Lewis’ first time competing at the national championships, and though she felt the pressure going into the meet, she also was confident in her abilities.

    “I felt really strong towards the end of the season, so we didn’t have to change too much,” Lewis said. “I was able to focus just on bars going into (the championships), and work on the little details.”

    Although this season has come to a close, Lewis looks to her senior season with the hope of making a repeat appearance both individually on bars and as a team at the National Championships. As she plans for next year, Lewis said she might add a new skill on the bars, but remains confident with her routine as is.

    “Working on sticking my dismount is the biggest thing I have to do,” Lewis said of her training goals for next season.

    Fellow teammates Benes and Fayler also placed in the top 20 in their respective events on Saturday. Benes tied for 17th with a 9.000 on the vault, and Fayler took the 20th spot in the uneven parallel bars with a score of 8.800.

    In addition to the awards received for her performance in the championships, Erickson and teammates Destiny Cobbs,Becca Wilcox and Maly Krajco, all seniors, were also named to the Academic All-American team.

    “The pressure could be a little overwhelming, but it was important to go out there and have fun and enjoy (the championships). It’s a once in a lifetime experience,” Erickson said.