By Jennifer Eisenbart

Sports editor

Last year, the Burlington/Badger/Wilmot gymnastics team fell just short of rival Franklin/Muskego/Oak Creek/Whitnall at the WIAA Division 1 state meet.

“I think for the upperclassmen, the seniors especially, (they were motivated),” said coach Diane Biedrzycki, whose team fell just .384 (less than one fall) short of the team title. “They’ve got one piece left. They’ve gone third, second.

“They know they’ve only got one place to go.”

This year, the Demons return all but one member of that squad, and with an infusion of young talent, BBW could be taking aim at considerable goals.

“We haven’t really had a discussion as a team,” said Biedrzycki. “We’ve focusing on getting going. We do goals for the year in chunks.

“But the girls have talked about it out of the gym.”

All three schools in the co-op will be contributing varsity gymnasts this year, with seven returning letterwinners. BHS senior Michelle Dankle returns as the team’s most consistent all-arounder last year, though an ankle injury limited her late in the season.

Badger senior Kerry Leonard and BHS senior Alice Gordon also return, with Gordon competing on vault and beam at state, while Leonard missed the postseason with a sprained ankle.

Both will sit out early in the season due to team rules infractions, but when they are back, Leonard is expected to contribute on vault, beam and floor and Gordon on vault and beam.

BHS junior Lauren Otter is back having qualified as an individual on both the balance beam and floor last year. She is capable of competing in the all-around.

Another junior, Wilmot’s Marlee Brunow, is training all four events but is strongest on bars and floor, and another Wilmot junior, Meghan Jarnigo, is capable of contributing on vault and floor at the varsity level.

Sophomores Aubrey Weinhammer (BHS) and Robynanne Scheuerman (Badger) are back, both with shots at the vault and floor lineups and Weinhammer on beam as well. Badger sophomore Ciara Johnson could contribute on vault and floor as well.

But three newcomers will play a huge role in BBW’s success this year. BHS freshmen Molly Benavides and Bailey Fitzpatrick – both high-level club athletes – will bring a strong level of difficult skills to the team, and Fitzpatrick’s sophomore sister, Jenna, is also out for the team.

“That was a surprise for sure,” said Biedrzycki. “In losing Krystal Cooke and Ali (Kassel), that’s a big hit.

“We knew that we needed to rebuild and account for those losses,” the coach added. “It was a surprise to get the newcomers for sure. They’re going to be tough.”

Rounding out the team are Nicole Johnson of Badger, Jordan Borkovec of BHS, Megan Robinson (Wilmot), Allison Paleka (Badger), Mariah Kerr (BHS) and Maquel Lamb (BHS).

With this much depth, Biedrzycki is looking at a team that has seven to eight varsity-ready athletes on each event – if not deeper. That means a number of athletes will be fighting for varsity spots, or earning spots on the varsity through time on the JV.

“We were strong before, with the top five on any given day,” Biedrzycki. “And now, we have just gotten deeper.

“There’s some good healthy competition between the girls,” she added. “It will allow us to rest.

“I think it’s fun to put all the pieces together to get the best possible lineup at the end of the season.”