Bronsons, Cassidy, Murphy advance to individual state

The BUW gymnastics squad takes the podium as Division 1 Burlington Sectional runner-up Thursday night at Burlington High School. Pictured are (from left) Annie Murphy (freshman, Lake Geneva Badger), Malia Bronson (soph., Williams Bay), Regan Cassidy (jr., Badger), Maddy Bronson (sr., WB), Ava Trent (soph., Badger) and Kylie Kramer (fresh., LGB). (Mike Ramczyk/SLN)

By Mike Ramczyk

BURLINGTON – Andrea Chart knew there was a pretty good chance her girls were going to qualify for team state Thursday night.

Though the FMOW (Franklin/Muskego/Oak Creek/Whitnall) and BUW (Badger/Burlington/Union Grove/Wilmot/Williams Bay) varsity squads are clearly a cut above the competition, nothing is guaranteed in the sport of gymnastics, where the slightest loss of balance can result in major damage to a team score.

Performing at their home high school for the first time this season, since home meets take place at the local middle school, the Demons dazzled from the jump with a season-high vault routine en route to a another season-high, 146.85, in a WIAA Division 1 sectional.

Had it not been for a whopping 150 from FMOW, BUW put together a score good enough to win most sectionals and certainly capable for challenging for a state championship, something the multiple-time state runner-up has never experienced.

“A season high with some room to improve,” Chart said after the meet while cleaning up the gymnasium. “It was good. Franklin’s really good, it’s crazy, there’s no denying it.”

“We’re going to Rapids again, that’s all that matters. We can go higher at state, which is the ultimate goal. I feel good.”

Along with team state, BUW will send several girls to the individual state competition: Maddy Bronson (all-around), Annie Murphy (beam), Malia Bronson (floor) and Regan Cassidy (bars).

It’s the second consecutive team state appearance and second straight second-place finish at sectionals.

Despite an other-worldly performance from FMOW, which boasted the top three all-around scores (all higher than 37.4), Burlington showed tons of fight and maximized their season performance by far, registering a team score more than two points higher than their previous best of 144.

“Our lowest score we dropped on vault was 9.0, which has never happened,” Chart said. “Last week at conference, we went low 35s, so to almost go 37 (36.8), it’s awesome.”

The Demons continued their momentum with a solid bars showing before a few hiccups on balance beam. Sophomore Ava Trent suffered a fall, then Malia Bronson, who was ranked No. 1 in the state on beam, didn’t do her back handspring series, which cost her some points.

Bronson walked to the other end of the gym to the locker room and needed a moment before competing in floor.

“She didn’t do her second series, which cost her a little bit of bonus, it’s show,” Chart said. “She was bummed about that, but she had a solid routine after that. She went to state last year in beam, and it’s her best event. She’s a sophomore, and she’s going on floor and with the team, so she’s OK with that.”

Like any elite athlete, Malia recovered quite nicely on floor, firing off a 9.3 with flashy dance moves and acrobatic flips to qualify for state.

For Maddy, the senior who has carried the squad all season and will compete collegiately in the fall, there’s still work to be done.

“It feels awesome, we’re loving life, we’re gonna kill it at state,” Maddy Bronson said after the meet. “We still didn’t hit everything, which is good because we’re leaving it for state.”

Cassidy said attitude was key.

“Vault was our best of the year,” she said. “We had a positive attitude, lots of cheering, lots of high-fives, stayed positive together with high energy.”

For Murphy, who joined the team after transferring from Lake Geneva Badger High School to Williams Bay, it’s been fun to get back into gymnastics after trying cheerleading.

“Within my first week, I had my floor down,” said Murphy, who joined BUW in January and won floor in a previous meet. “It wasn’t too hard coming back. I’m very happy.”

“She brings more to the team, that’s for sure,” Chart added.

The Bronsons, Kylie Kramer (Badger), Cassidy, Trent and Murphy have all known each other for more than a decade, coming up in the sport together at the Walworth County Gymnastics Center club in Elkhorn.

The girls say they know each other well, and it helps with camaraderie and chemistry during competition.

Maddy Bronson believes the squad can beat FMOW, something it has never done in WIAA postseason competition, at the team state meet, which is Friday, March 1 at Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln Fieldhouse. The individual state meet is the next day.

“We would love to take the dub and win the whole thing,” Maddy said.

Malia Bronson said the workouts will intensify next week, and the girls agree they have the ability to finally beat Franklin, one of the most dominant forces in all of state high school sports.

“We had a good day today, but we are going to amp up the practice and amp up the skills,” Malia said. “People better watch out. We’re going to hit everything, we’re going to practice like there’s no tomorrow this next week, and … watch out.”

Chart said she anticipates a very difficult individual competition, and she is hoping the team builds on last year’s third-place state finish.

“As a team, last year we just missed second,” Chart said. “I would hope we have a chance to win it. Anything can happen, it’s gymnastics.”