Individual meet will be Saturday at Wisconsin Rapids
By Paul Lecker
MARSHFIELD — Marshfield sophomores Emma Haugen and Brooke McGrath are part of a gymnastics team that has been making history this season.
Marshfield broke the program record for points in a meet four times this season, the final time coming at last Saturday’s WIAA Division 1 sectional when the Tigers totaled 132.975 points to finish fourth.
Haugen and McGrath will cap off the stellar season for Marshfield at the 2017 WIAA State Gymnastics Meet on Saturday at Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln High School.
McGrath will be making her first state appearance, qualifying in the vault after scoring an 8.9 at sectionals to tie for third place.
Haugen, who placed 22nd in the vault at last year’s state meet, moves on in the all-around and will compete in all four events. She finished second in the vault (9.1), fourth in the balance beam (8.8), seventh in the floor exercise (8.675), and tied for 10th in the uneven bars (8.075) to finish fifth in the all-around with a score of 34.65 at sectionals.
McGrath missed five weeks of the season with a knee injury before returning for the Great Northern Conference Meet on Feb. 18 and finished seventh in the vault. She upped her score at sectionals by more than a point to earn a spot in the state field.
“It was the same vault that I had last year, a front-hand spring full,” McGrath said. “It wasn’t that hard to get back because I’ve been doing it for so long. Now I’m working on a one-and-a-half for state.”
Haugen said she has been working on some new things throughout the season in all of her events and has improved from a year ago.
“The vault stayed the same (as last year),” Haugen said. “We tried a different one, but what I was doing last year, the scores were higher, so we decided to stick with that for a while. I added difficult on beam. Bars mostly stayed the same, but the scores went up. The routine improved.”
Haugen said she is happy to be able to share the state experience with a teammate, especially McGrath, who she said she has been good friends with since first grade.
“Last year there were a lot of nerves, especially being there by yourself,” Haugen said. “You will still be nervous — it is state — but I’ll be more calm and confident, and having another person there with me will make it a lot easier too.”
McGrath added, “It’s pretty exciting. I wouldn’t want to go with anyone else.”
Marshfield coach Allie Dryer said expectations for Haugen have went up as she prepares for her second try at state.
“Returning to state is a big feat,” Dryer said. “She qualified in just the vault last year, so to go into this year and qualify for vault, and beam, and all-around, three times what she accomplished at sectionals last year, that’s great. We have big hopes for how this could come out for her. Division 1 is no joke. It’s serious competition.”
The record-setting performances for the team throughout the season, as well as getting two individuals to the state meet, has Dryer hoping this is just the start of something special with her program.
“We had just one senior competing in our sectional lineup,” Dryer said. “We’re hopeful that this team can come into next year and start right where we left off this season and go from there. We were only 1.55 points off the state qualification (a top two spot at sectionals), so that’s a good spot to be.”
The state team tournament will be Friday, starting at 2 p.m., and the individual portion of the state meet will start at 11:10 a.m. Saturday.
(Hub City Times Sports Reporter Paul Lecker is also the publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com.)