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Local gymnasts jump-start season by winning Westosha Invite

Team edges rival Burlington in first showdown

Jan. 8, 2013

Muskego - Last season, it took the Franklin/Muskego/Oak Creek and Whitnall girls gymnastics co-op all the way until the state meet before it could beat the Burlington co-op in a team event.

Consider the local co-op a little before schedule this season as the two-time WIAA state champion FMOW team edged Burlington 146.425-146.025 in the 13-school Westosha Central Falcon Invitational on Saturday.

"It was interesting," said FMOW coach Katie Moore. "It wasn't something we were planning on doing, especially short-handed like we were. … But this was the first big meet of the year and with 13 teams this'll likely be the biggest meet we have (before state). It was a long day, but it was good to see the girls get out there and compete like this.

"It's also good being able to compare everyone (the top teams) and especially worth your while when you can win something like this."

The local co-op, which will see Burlington again at 7 p.m. Jan. 12 in a triangular meet with Kenosha, was without 2011 state vault champion Lauren Zurowski of Whitnall (mono) and Paige Schreiber of Muskego (illness) as it contested the Falcon Invite.

Depth a big asset

Burlington athletes dominated the individual events but FMOW was able to edge their rivals by using depth.

Moore said that uneven bars was a great lift for the team as Sammie Olson (Muskego) was third with a 9.675 and freshman Sam Balcerak (Muskego) was close behind in fourth with an equally impressive 9.55. It was just Balcerak's second try at the event this season as she took a sound fourth in the all-around with a 37.05 mark. Olson was sixth in the all-around.

Balance beam was not the best event for the local co-op, but Olson still recorded a 9.05 and Jessica Kossoris (Franklin) a 9.0 to lead the way as the team had to include two falls in its score.

Other impressive efforts for FMOW included Melanie Pearson (Franklin) taking fourth in floor exercise (9.375) in her first efforts of the season as Kossoris led the team's showings on vault, taking sixth with a 9.25. Balcerak was third in the event (9.425).

"Jessica (Kossoris) is normally our fifth scorer (on vault) so that tells you that event was going for us today," said Moore.

Continuing without champ

Moore continued to be impressed with the efforts despite the fact that Zurowski, whom she thinks might be the team's best overall athlete, will not likely be back for at least a few more weeks.

She was also excited that her team was able to respond well in a high-level meet like this.

"We actually love coming to this meet," Moore said. "It's a neat event with great equipment, a nice atmosphere and a great setup. Honestly, we weren't talking about beating Burlington. It simply wasn't on our radar yet.

"But our girls know that this isn't the end of it yet. They want to keep working and getting better and we're just starting to add new skills (to our routines)."

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