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All-area gymnastics photo: Mount Horeb's Drea O'Connell

Mount Horeb's Drea O'Connell does her routine for the floor exercise competition during the 33rd annual Mount Horeb Viking gymnastics invitational at Mount Horeb High School in Mount Horeb, Wis., Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL

It was the year of the small school in Madison-area high school gymnastics.

Gymnasts from WIAA Division 2 programs claimed all five spots on the Wisconsin State Journal 2018-2019 All-Area first team, along with four of the five second-team spots.

Of those nine all-area honors, five went to one gymnast: Drea O’Connell, a Mount Horeb sophomore who took second place in three events and the all-around in the Division 2 state meet, held March 2 in Wisconsin Rapids.

O’Connell — who did not compete with the Vikings last year, opting to stay exclusively with her club team, joined the high school team this season and earned state runner-up finishes on floor exercise and uneven bars, a tie for second in vaulting and a fifth-place finish on balance beam. All of that added up to a runner-up finish in the state all-around competition.

O’Connell’s performance, along with plenty of help from her talented teammates, helped Mount Horeb finish second behind defending champ and top-ranked Whitefish Bay in the team standings.

As a result, O’Connell has been named the Wisconsin State Journal’s All-area Gymnast of the Year.

O’Connell scored 37.300 points in the all-around, 9.483 points in floor exercise and 9.15 points on uneven bars, all bests for area gymnasts in either division at state. She also scored 9.467 in vaulting and 9.200 on balance beam.

O’Connell reached those high scores despite an awkward landing during the previous week’s sectional meet, which left her on crutches due to a slightly hyperextended knee. But she was cleared medically to compete, despite missing most of the week’s practices, and rode her instincts to a big finish.

“I’m really happy,” O’Connell said after individual state. “I knew there was really good competition here and I just wanted to do my best. That’s all I could do.”

Coach of the Year: It’s time for another All-Area Coach of the Year honor for Mount Horeb program leader Martha Koller Faust, who — in her 22nd season — led the Vikings to victories in the Badger Conference meet and WIAA sectionals before the state runner-up finish.

And there are bright skies ahead for Koller Faust and the Vikings: Five of the six girls who competed in sectionals and state are freshmen and sophomores.


WISCONSIN STATE JOURNAL

2019 ALL-AREA GYMNASTICS TEAM

FIRST TEAM

Balance beam: Lorisa Shatrawka, fr., River Valley/Barneveld. Won the WIAA Division 2 state championship with a score of 9.567 points — a vast improvement over the 8.700 score that earned her second place in the Southwest Wisconsin Conference meet.

Floor exercise: Drea O’Connell, so., Mount Horeb. Took second at Division 2 state with a score of 9.483 points. Also won the Badger Conference title (9.450).

Uneven bars: Drea O’Connell, so., Mount Horeb. Took second at Division 2 state with a score of 9.150 points. Also won the Badger Conference title (9.100).

Vaulting: Payton Jenks-Recker, sr., Monona Grove. Won the Division 2 state championship with a score of 9.500 points.

All-around: Drea O’Connell, Mount Horeb. Took second in Division 2 at state with a score of 37.300 points. Also won the Badger Conference title (37.150).

SECOND TEAM

Balance beam: Drea O’Connell, so., Mount Horeb.

Floor exercise: Lorisa Shatrawka, fr., River Valley/Barneveld.

Uneven bars: Alex DeAngeles, sr., Madison West.

Vaulting: Drea O’Connell, so., Mount Horeb.

All-around: Lorisa Shatrawka, fr., River Valley/Barneveld.

HONORABLE MENTION

Balance beam: Thea Bender, fr., Madison East/La Follette; Alex DeAngeles, sr., Madison West; Taylor Engelkes, so., Middleton; Tea Hellen, jr., Madison Memorial; Payton Jenks-Recker, sr., Monona Grove; Miah Lemanski, jr., Dodgeville/Mineral Point; Abby Nowicki, sr., Sun Prairie; Maddie Olson, sr., Milton.

Floor exercise: Thea Bender, fr., Madison East/La Follette; Jordan Baggot, sr., Middleton; Tessa Bockhop, jr., Dodgeville/Mineral Point; Ashley Domask, jr., Waunakee/DeForest; Kayla Gehrmann, jr., Jefferson; Payton Jenks-Recker, sr., Monona Grove; Tailyn Keller, sr., Waunakee/DeForest; Miah Lemanski, jr., Dodgeville/Mineral Point; Ella Peterson, fr., Mount Horeb; Elisa Weier, jr., Mount Horeb; Lexie Weier, fr., Mount Horeb.

Uneven bars: Kayla Goniosrowski, jr., Milton; Grace O’Neil, so., Mount Horeb; Caylee Powers, jr., Waunakee/DeForest; Olivia Rebout, fr., Janesville Craig; Alyssa Rios, so., Madison Memorial; Lorisa Shatrawka, fr., River Valley/Barneveld.

Vaulting: Jordan Baggot, sr., Middleton; Hailey Dohnal, jr., Verona/Madison Edgewood; Lindsey Heistman, so., Milton; Tea Hellen, jr., Madison Memorial; Tailyn Keller, sr., Waunakee/DeForest; Miah Lemanski, jr., Dodgeville/Mineral Point; Sofia Sanftleben, fr., River Valley/Barneveld; Lorisa Shatrawka, fr., River Valley/Barneveld; Maggie Veak, so., Verona/Madison Edgewood.

All-around: Jordan Baggot, sr., Middleton; Thea Bender, fr., Madison East/La Follette; Tessa Bockhop, jr., Dodgeville/Mineral Point; Jaya Carlson, fr., Madison Memorial; Alex DeAngeles, sr., Madison West; Taylor Engelkes, so., Middleton; Kayla Gehrmann, jr., Jefferson; Lindsey Heistman, so., Milton; Elle Honerbaum, jr., Dodgeville/Mineral Point; Payton Jenks-Recker, sr., Monona Grove; Miah Lemanski, jr., Dodgeville/Mineral Point; Amelia McDermott, jr., Sun Prairie; Abby Nowicki, sr., Sun Prairie; Elisa Weier, jr., Mount Horeb.

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Wisconsin State Journal prep sports editor Art Kabelowsky has traversed the state to cover sports while working for daily papers in Fort Atkinson, Racine, La Crosse, Milwaukee and Baraboo.