WIAA state gymnastics: MG’s Payton Jenks-Recker caps senior year with D2 vault title
WISCONSIN RAPIDS — Monona Grove senior Payton Jenks-Recker vaulted so well on Saturday she surprised even herself.
And it was the happiest of all possible surprises.
Jenks-Recker scored 9.50 points, matching her personal best, to win the individual event championship in the WIAA Division 2 state meet at Wisconsin Rapids High School.
“I was a little surprised,” said Jenks-Recker, who did a Tsukahara pike vault. “I was up in the rankings, but I was shocked I stuck that performance.
“I was really happy with what I got.”
Jenks-Recker’s score was just ahead of Mount Horeb sophomore Drea O’Connell and Whitefish Bay sophomore Addie Gallun, who tied for second with 9.467. Junior Miah Lemanski of Dodgeville/Mineral Point wound up in a three-way tie for fifth (9.30).
Jenks-Recker was one of a number of area athletes who stood out among the Division 2 field.
River Valley/Barneveld freshman Lorisa Shatrawka won the championship on the balance beam, scoring a personal-best 9.567 points.
“I’m really happy,” said Shatrawka, whose all-around total also was a personal high. “I just didn’t expect it, to do this well.
“I had my team supporting me, which is really nice. I was just pumped up. I was ready to go. I just wanted to have fun.”
After leading Mount Horeb to a runner-up finish in Friday’s Division 2 team competition, O’Connell finished second in the all-around and reached the awards stand in every individual event.
An awkward landing on her second vault during last week’s WIAA sectional gymnastics meet left O’Connell on crutches with a slightly hyperextended right knee and sparked worry about her status for state.
But O’Connell was cleared medically and able to discard the crutches. Despite not practicing much, she was eager for her first trip to state.
“She was not able to do a whole lot of practice this week because it seemed to be bothering her,” Mount Horeb coach Martha Koller Faust said. “It was up in the air how much warm-up she’d be able to do once we got here.
“(We hoped we could) let her instincts kind of kick in, and muscle memory. Obviously, she had a great meet.”
O’Connell earned three second-place finishes — in vaulting, uneven bars and floor exercise — and fifth place on balance beam.
“I’m really happy,” said O’Connell, who competed in club gymnastics last year. “I knew there was really good competition here and I just wanted to do my best. That’s all I could do.”
O’Connell’s all-around finish was Mount Horeb’s best since Lauren Faust — Koller Faust’s daughter — won the all-around in 2015.
“I thought she seemed a little more at ease or familiar with the equipment from (Friday night),” Koller Faust said of O’Connell. “She seemed a little less stressed out about performing today. … She was really on today.”
O’Connell said she felt calmer Saturday, but also more tired. She said her knee didn’t hamper her performance, but added: “I just pushed through the pain and tried to do the best I can.”
Gallun totaled 37.917 points and earned the all-around championship, edging O’Connell, who had 37.30. Shatrawka finished third (36.55).
Gallun, who led Whitefish Bay to its fourth consecutive Division 2 team title Friday, claimed the floor exercise title (9.517) — ahead of O’Connell (9.483) and third-place finisher Shatrawka (9.40). Gallun also was the uneven bars champion (9.383), again ahead of runner-up O’Connell (9.150).
Marshfield junior Gracie Holland was the all-around winner with 37.267 points. Holland unseated defending champion Alexis Woida (37.233), a senior from Hartland Arrowhead, by a razor-thin margin.
Senior Krystal Nelson — competing for the Franklin co-op, which won its fourth consecutive Division 1 team title Friday — finished third with 37.183.
The top area finish in the all-around was 19th place by freshman Thea Bender (34.983) of Madison East/La Follette.
Event champions were Holland in vaulting (9.567); Woida on the balance beam (9.483); Hartford sophomore Emily Perkowski on the floor exercise (9.40); and Mequon Homestead junior Taylor Raskin on uneven bars (9.417).