By David Paulsen

SPORTS CORRESPONDENT

With six of the 11 girls out for the squad underclassmen, the Waterford High School gymnastics squad will be lacking competitive experience in the early part of the season.

With one of those underclassmen, though, being Grace Kubiak, the team hopes to improve enough throughout the season to make an impact in the post-season.

Kubiak narrowly missed qualifying for state last year as a freshman, and head coach Carrie Buelow believes she can qualify for state this year. What may help in that quest is the fact that Waterford will compete in Division 2 in the post-season.

Waterford has been the last school making the Division 1 cut the last several years, meaning the smaller school was routinely competing against co-op schools for a chance to make it to state.

Kubiak, who is one of four returning letterwinners, missed a good portion of last season due to injury.

“She’s healthy this year,” Buelow noted of her all-around athlete.

Along with Kubiak, Buelow has returning letterwinners in seniors Kailee Helget and Jessica Rick, and in junior Samantha Jahnke. Helget and Rick compete in the all-around, while Jahnke specialized in the floor and vault.

Two freshmen who Buelow expects to make an immediate impact on the team are Kayla Wisowaty and Amdria Noll. Both will be in the line-up for the season-opening action Saturday, Dec. 10, when Waterford hosts its Emerald Invite starting at 10 a.m.

Other athletes out for the squad are senior Emily Hackstein, junior Corey Pfankuch, sophomore Alexis Walkowski, and freshmen Breanna Bertschinger and Paytin Kennicott.

“I can see a lot of kids stepping up,” Buelow said. “Amdria Noll is a nice addition this year as a freshman.”

Buelow said the girls have come into practices willing to learn new skills, as well as motivated and dedicated to work hard.

Helget is the team captain this year.

“She’s been four years on the team,” Buelow noted. “She’s a great leader, a very positive person.”

The Emerald Invite Saturday will draw some of the better teams in the state, including defending WIAA Division 1 state champion Franklin/Muskego/Whitnall/Oak Creek and D1 runner-up Burlington/badger/Wilmot.

Also at the meet will be Homestead, Waunakee, Mukwonago/Kettle Moraine, Verona and Waukesha Combined.