The WIAA state gymnastics tournament is nothing new to Sun Prairie senior Allayah Lane.
Lane qualified for the Division 1 state meet in floor exercise last year and placed 15th.
The Sun Prairie senior is even more excited this year. Not only is she aiming to earn a medal-winning place at state, she hopes to compete against her friends from other Madison-area schools in a sectional tournament for the first time in three years.
Lane and the Sun Prairie Cardinals will compete Saturday in the WIAA Division 1 Madison Memorial sectional. It marks the first time since 2015 that the Cardinals didn’t have to head east, to the Milwaukee suburbs, to compete in a sectional.
With so many of the state’s highest-ranked teams coming out of the Milwaukee area, the move gives Sun Prairie’s team confidence that it can qualify for the state team competition for the first time since 1991.
“We’ve been competing together since we were little,” Lane said of her Madison-area competition. “It’ll be a more fun atmosphere, and it’s not going to be as much pressure. I’ll feel a lot more comfortable competing against my friends.”
Lane is ranked third in her favorite event, floor exercise, by the Wisconsin High School Gymnastics Association. She averaged 9.45 points in the event this year and broke the school record with a 9.65 at the Mount Horeb Invitational on Jan. 6.
“I really get to go out there and shine through on that event, because I’m most confident with it,” Lane said. “It’s the longest event, too, so my personality shines through on it.”
Karina Sabol of Middleton, Tyra Turner of Madison La Follette and Natalie Donkle of Madison Memorial are a few of the childhood friends against whom Lane will compete on Saturday.
“We’re excited for sectionals,” Sun Prairie coach Shannon Maly said. “We have that opportunity to go to state not just as individuals, but as a team. Since the beginning of the season, our No. 1 goal has been to make it to state as a team.
“State would be a really awesome experience for these girls. Since we were kind of cut short the last three years, this is our time. This team deserves it and they’ve worked hard for it.”
Sun Prairie had won Big Eight Conference each of the last three years before finishing second to Middleton in the conference meet last year, by a margin of 138.550 points to 137.825.
Lane finished second in floor exercise (9.45) and balance beam (9.2) and second in all-around (36.000) in the conference meet. She also took third in vaulting (9.175).
According to Maly, Sun Prairie would have qualified for team state through the Madison sectional each of the last three years, but didn’t because their sectional included the top four teams in the state rankings each time out. And only the top two teams in each sectional advance to state.
The Cardinals finished fourth in the last two sectional meets and third in 2015.
The Cardinals also hopes to qualify a number of individuals to the Saturday, March 3, team state competition. The team tournament will take place Friday, March 2, at Wisconsin Rapids High School.
“This team has a lot of heart,” Maly said. “They have a lot of determination and a lot of spirit towards moving this forward.”
Lane’s determined to do things differently if she makes it back to state this year.
“I’m going to take it all in, prepare myself and be more confident at what I’m doing because I’ve been doing it all year,” Lane said. “I’m going to treat it like it’s just another meet so the pressure won’t get to my head.”