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What did the Mount Horeb gymnastics team accomplish last year?

The Vikings placed third in the WIAA Division 2 state meet, won their sixth consecutive Badger Conference title and won all five of their regular-season invitationals.

What does the Mount Horeb gymnastics team want to accomplish this year? The Vikings strive to be even better.

“It’s early, and we need to stay healthy and get stronger,” Vikings coach Martha Koller Faust said. “But we have good team chemistry, a lot of depth and experience coming into this year.”

Seven of the eight letterwinners from the Vikings’ squad return for this upcoming season, including senior Krista Taylor, whose list of 2016-2017 accomplishments was a long one — led by her sixth-place finish in the individual all-around competition at Division 2 state.

Taylor also qualified for state last year in floor exercise (where she took fourth), vaulting and floor exercise, and the swept to championships in all four events and the all-around in last year’s Badger Conference meet.

“Krista has done a fantastic job of leading our team in and out of the gym. She comes in and works hard every day,” Koller Faust said. “She’s been a joy to coach and watch compete.”

Taylor’s main motivation, she says, is to have a chance to contribute to the group.

“Being able to compete at the state meet with my friends, not only as teammates but having them there as my friends, I thought was the best part,” Taylor said. “We call ourselves a family, and we are always there for each other.

“Going from freshman to senior year, it’s been a great experience and I’ve loved every bit of it. And I look forward to what happens this season.”

Taylor had the luxury of learning from another terrific group of upperclassmen when she first joined the varsity — which should come as no surprise, considering Mount Horeb has earned a record 30 state team appearances.

Before taking third place in each of the past two seasons — each year finishing less than a half-point away from second — Taylor was a member of the Vikings team that won the school’s fifth state championship in 2015.

“Krista was a freshman when our daughter, Lauren, was a senior,” Koller Faust said. “She’s told me that having the seniors that she had was really a great thing for her, and that makes me proud.”

While Koller Faust has been at the helm of the Mount Horeb program since 1997, her husband, Pete, also coaches the team, and this will be their seventh year coaching together.

Looking ahead to the upcoming season, Taylor and Koller Faust are excited to be working at new skills that will be implemented into the senior’s routines.

“She’s got so much potential. She’s a go-getter.” Koller Faust said. “We don’t want to tell all of our secrets about the things she’s working on, but her and the other girls are hard at work on their routines.”

Outside of Taylor, the Vikings return four other All-State competitors: Senior Erin Dahm, who was named a first-team participant on the balance beam; and Sophie Alberts, Elisa Weier and Abbi Stram, who received honorable mention.

“My favorite part of being here has been all the things we do together as a team,” Taylor said. “We have a lot of team dinners and we will hang out outside of the gym as friends, and for me that’s a big part of team bonding and it makes our practices and meets a lot more fun.”

Because of Taylor’s ability to excel on the floor and as a leader, she has been named the most valuable gymnast for Mount Horeb each of the past two seasons. It’s an honor that she doesn’t take lightly.

“It definitely means a lot to me, because I know a lot of times the coaches and the team members, they’re the ones who notice that kind of thing,” Taylor said. “So having them recognize what I’m doing and giving that title to me is very important.”