Amelia McDermott is the reigning Big Eight Conference all-around champion.

A year after not winning the Big Eight Conference championship following a three-year domination, the Sun Prairie gymnastics team reclaimed its spot on the mountain top.

Now, it’s once again time to defend.

“Every year we hope for the best and would love to capture another championship under our belt,” said Sun Prairie head coach Shannon Maly. “The season is just under way and we have a lot of new gymnasts joining the team. We are excited to see where they take us.”

The team did lose some pretty talented gymnasts including Anjaly Connors and Abigail Nowicki, both part of the WIAA state-qualifying team in 2018, that will be had to replace.

“Yes, both Abby and Anjaly contributed greatly to the team. Our 2018-19 team was a very tight group which helped bring the team together in practice and in meets. Dani Johnston, Sam Schumann and Natalia Figureroa all contributed on JV and Varsity last year during the season. We are looking to them to step into those roles as they work on new skills for their events. We also have a new group of freshmen that are eager to learn and fill those spots as well.”

Returning to lead the team is senior Amelia McDermott, the reigning Big Eight Conference all-around champion.

“Amelia strives to get better each year. With the season starting a week later and having a meet a week earlier, it puts pressure on gymnasts to be more prepared than last year. I can’t speak for Amelia, she is one of the hardest workers in the gym and always puts more pressure on herself to be on for the team. She is working very hard at all her events and her continued leadership on the team,” said Maly.

Junior Ellie Studier also had a big year, and is ready to make that next step, which could lead to the WIAA State Meet.

“Ellie also had a great year last year and I am looking forward to seeing what is in store for her,” Maly said of Studier. “She is working hard preparing for the season — I love Ellie’s enthusiasm and her willingness to talk real to everyone on the team — she challenges herself and her teammates often. I think that is what helped our team gain momentum last year and one reason why we did so well.”

The Cardinals also have a lot of new athletes out this year. Freshman Martha Guelker comes in with a lot of skills ready for competition.

“She will be a strong all-arounder and has shown a lot of progress already in the first few weeks of practice. Her favorite event is vault and we needed another strong vaulter,” said Maly.

Freshman Jaeli Murray also is coming in with skills already in place for the season.

“She has demonstrated a great work ethic in practice and has a great sense of humor when you catch it,” Maly said.

Freshman Carly Goss joined the team as well and is moving ahead quickly learning three new routines.

“We have a lot of returning gymnasts that are all working hard at improving their skills from last year to help the team this year,” Maly added.

And just where will Sun Prairie be in the mix in regards to the Big Eight Conference?

“This year I think many schools are in for the running. If we focus on staying healthy and taking one meet at a time, everything will fall into place. It’s also nice to have competition there. It drives the team to do better each week,” said Maly.

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