MOUNT HOREB — Krista Taylor feared the worst.
When she landed straight-legged during her final tumbling pass during the floor exercise at the Mount Horeb Invitational on Jan. 6, Taylor knew her right knee was injured.
The severity of the injury was the Mount Horeb senior’s question. She thought her final high school gymnastics season might be over. She was told at the meet that she had hyperextended her knee, but there was concern she tore her anterior cruciate ligament.
“At first, I was definitely apprehensive,” she said this week.
Mount Horeb gymnastics coach Martha Koller Faust felt the same way and wondered what the moment meant for the Vikings’ top gymnast and for the team’s season.
Results several days after the meet — in which Taylor won two events and the all-around title in the Red Division before winding up on crutches — delivered good news. Her knee had been overstretched and hyperextended, but nothing was torn, Taylor said.
“I was able to do the (physical therapy) and take time off and heal,” Taylor said. “I was glad I could come back and finish (the season).”
She missed about a month, but has returned to lead Mount Horeb to the WIAA state gymnastics meet, coming up Friday and Saturday in Wisconsin Rapids. The team competition is Friday; the individual competition Saturday.
“I feel pretty good now … I’m pretty much back to where I was,” Taylor said.
“She stayed strong,” Koller Faust said. “She stayed in shape, doing core work and things she could do, when she couldn’t do gymnastics. She kept at it. We were certainly optimistic that she would make it back, and it worked out in our favor.”
Taylor won the floor exercise, the uneven bars, vaulting and the all-around, totaling 35.425 points, in last Thursday’s Division 2 sectional at Mount Horeb. Mount Horeb finished first with 138.20 points, and runner-up Jefferson had 131.825 to earn the second state berth — its second consecutive and second overall trip to state.
For Mount Horeb, it will be its 31st state appearance, the most all-time, according to the WIAA.
“I’m really excited for this week,” said Taylor, who finished sixth in the all-around at state last year and seventh as a sophomore. “I think our team has more potential than we’ve shown so far. I think we have a good chance. … We always say (competing) individually is the icing on the cake and I agree with that because for me that’s the fun day. The team day is the most important part.”
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Whitefish Bay has won the past two Division 2 titles, after Mount Horeb earned the 2015 championship.
“There is no defense in gymnastics, as we always say,” Koller Faust said. “So, you have to bring your ‘A’ game.”
Whitefish Bay and River Falls, second to Whitefish Bay the past two years, remain favorites this year, with the West Salem co-op and Mount Horeb in the hunt.
“We are fourth in the state right now, based on the other sectionals,” Koller Faust said. “That’s where we were last year and we ended up placing third, just missing second by a tenth. We are just focused on tightening up our routines and our vaults, getting lots of reps and hoping we are hitting Friday and Saturday.”
Just missing second place at state last year and finishing just behind champion Watertown at the Badger Conference meet this year is the reason Taylor said the Vikings realize “every tenth counts.”
“It would be fun to be in the top two,” said Koller Faust, who hopes the state meet creates great, lasting memories for her team.
Others leading the way for the Vikings include senior Erin Dahm, who won the balance beam and was second on uneven bars at sectionals; senior Sophie Alberts, third on floor and fourth in vaulting at sectionals; and freshman Grace O’Neil, third in all-around and vaulting and fourth on balance beam and floor exercise at sectionals.
The state meet will represent the conclusion of Taylor’s four years on varsity. In the individual competition, Whitefish Bay’s Addie Gallun and Emma Fox and River Falls’ Sam Krueger enter as Division 2 all-around contenders.
“I’m kind of sad,” said Taylor, who began in gymnastics when she was 3½ years old. “It will be an emotional weekend because I don’t want it to be over. I love gymnastics. I’ve done it most of my life. I don’t know what I will do with myself when it is done.”
Taylor appreciates the coaching she’s received in high school from Koller Faust and Pete Faust, Martha’s husband, who also coaches the Vikings.
“I definitely see Martha and Pete as almost like parents,” Taylor said. “They push you to do your best, but they also are supportive. They are there for you every day in the gym. They encourage you to do your best. They definitely got me to where I am in gymnastics the past four years.”
Koller Faust said Taylor was an academic All-State selection for four years and was selected for the academic honor this season along with several teammates: Alberts, senior Kalista Eggers, junior Cali Raley and sophomores Abbi Stram, Stella Pernot and Elisa Weier.
Taylor plans to attend the University of Wisconsin and hopes to study psychiatry. Koller Faust anticipates Taylor might one day be a doctor.
“She is a great kid in school and gymnastics, and all-around,” Koller Faust said. “She will go far.”
Contact Jon Masson at firstname.lastname@example.org.