MOUNT HOREB — Mount Horeb girls gymnastics coach Martha Koller Faust didn’t have much time to talk Thursday night because she had a ride to catch.
As tradition has it in Mount Horeb, whenever one of its teams advances to a state tournament, the Vikings receive a fire-truck escort around town.
So, after hosting and winning the WIAA Division 2 sectional, Koller Faust and the Vikings hit the town in a school bus — driven by senior Leah Skalet’s father, Joel Skalet, who began the evening singing the national anthem, activities director Kolleen Nesheim said.
“It is a wonderful small-town opportunity,” Koller Faust said. “We’ll go to the west end of town and make a big loop and head back to school. We have all the bells and whistles, and the lights are on. People come out from the bars. The kids roll down the windows, wave their arms and there’s a lot of screaming. It’s an awesome tradition.”
Led by all-around champion Krista Taylor, the Vikings earned first place with 138.375 points and will make their sixth consecutive state appearance and 30th overall. Mount Horeb finished third at state last year.
“The team last night at practice was very nervous,” said Koller Faust, wearing a red “Rise As One” T-shirt. “Three of the girls had experience — Krista, Leah and Erin Dahm — but the other girls had never faced all the pressure of the sectional. They all did a wonderful job. This is different, knowing this gets you to the next level. There is a little extra pressure. … I was so proud of them. They turned it up.”
The top two teams, top five individuals in each event and the top five all-around competitors advanced to the WIAA Division 2 state meet March 3-4 in Wisconsin Rapids.
There also was considerable celebrating from Jefferson, which finished second with 132.150 points — edging Southwestern/Cuba City/Benton, which was third with 131.20. It will be the first state appearance for Jefferson.
“We have a good coaching staff and the girls were willing to listen and learn and try new things,” said Charles Fischer, in his third season as Jefferson’s coach. “It wasn’t our expectation (to make state), it was our goal. We knew we had a chance. It is a tough (sectional) we are in.
“It took a lot of hard work. (At meet’s end), I said, ‘It’s going to be close.’ … We are all in shock. Every year, we have gotten better since I got here.”
Taylor, a junior, totaled 35.325 points to win the all-around crown, just ahead of Southwestern co-op junior Kelsie Goffinet (35.200). Mount Horeb junior Sophie Alberts and freshman Elisa Weier were third and fourth, respectively.
Taylor won the floor exercise with a 9.475 score, finished second in vaulting and tied Leah Skalet for third on balance beam.
“Overall, I thought I did pretty well,” Taylor said. “It was a good meet for me and the team. … I was very happy with my floor (routine). It was a good way to start off the meet.”
Jefferson junior Audry Wright won the vault and teammate Kayla Miller was third, leading the Eagles to the top score in that event, which proved pivotal in edging Southwestern for the second state berth.
Goffinet was the uneven bars winner, ahead of Dahm and Milton freshman Kayla Gopsiorowski, who tied for second. Goffinet finished second on the balance beam, fourth in vaulting and fifth on the floor.
Grace Hammermeister, a senior from Platteville/Belmont/Lancaster, earned the balance beam title.
Dodgeville/Mineral Point earned a repeat trip to the Division 2 state team tournament with a championship performance, scoring 132.375 points to power past the Viroqua co-op, which took second in the eight-team sectional with 128.45 points and also earned a state berth.
Dodge-Point freshman Miah Lemanski won the all-around title, scoring 34.525 points, and added a first in the vault (9.0) and a tie for first on the balance beam (8.95). She also qualified for individual state in floor exercise, taking third with a 9.125 score.
Junior Caroline Iausly of River Valley qualified in the all-around, taking third with 34.075 points. Dodge-Point freshman Tessa Bockhop finished fifth in all-around (33.625) to qualify for state, and also won on uneven bars (8.95).