Going up against some of the best athletes in the state may be intimidating for some high school gymnastics teams, but Monona Grove co-coach Jane McCurry said her team members were encouraged to have fun when they took on Mount Horeb in a Jan. 10 dual meet at Turners and tried out some new maneuvers when doing their routines.

“We encourage them to do their best and do big skills that they have been working on so that they can try them in a meet where we knew we weren’t going to lose by one or two points,” McCurry said after the Vikings defeated the Silver Eagles 142.100-116.70.

The outcome wasn’t close, but that was to be expected when the young MG squad took on Mount Horeb, which had several gymnasts advance to the 2019 WIAA Division 2 state tournament.

The Vikings swept the top five spots in the all-around scoring with junior Drea O’Connell leading the way with 36.300 total points. O’Connell – who finished second in the all-around last season at state – took first in all four events including a 9.550 in the floor exercise, 9.150 on the balance beam, 9.450 on the vault and 8.300 on the uneven bars. McCurry was encouraged by several performances on the Silver Eagles. Sophomore Avery Potter had MG’s highest score in the floor exercise with an 8.400, and sophomore Shae Donelan scored a team best 8.250 in the vault. Junior Ellie Van Veghel was the Silver Eagles top all-around scorer with 30.850 points after scoring a 8.100 on the vault, 7.550 on the uneven bars, 7.050 on the balance beam and 8.150 in the floor exercise.

McCurry suggested the team appeared more relaxed than it has in its previous meets.

“I saw a lot of girls have fun on the balance beam for the first time this season,” she said. “It was really nice to see them smile and have fun.”

McCurry said MG continues to improve in every practice and every meet. She was hopeful competing against a top-notch team like Mount Horeb would serve as a good education.

“I hope it inspires them to see what their peers can do on the floor and give them some confidence to perform the same skills,” McCurry said.

Monona Grove’s next match will be Jan. 17 at Baraboo with the first event scheduled for 6 p.m.

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