By Josh Sinclair
March 30, 2016
Three athletes from the UW-Whitewater gymnastics team won individual national titles at the National Collegiate Gymnastics Association Individual Finals in New York over the weekend of March 18-20.
For the eighth-straight year, the Whitewater gymnastics team finished in the top three, placing third this year in the National Collegiate Gymnastics Association Championship.
“I am very proud of our team and everything that they accomplished this year,” head coach Jennifer Regan said. “They fought and trained so hard this season. I really believe that we left everything out on the floor at nationals.”
The first national championship event of the day was on the uneven bars. Junior Warhawk Mackenzie Smith was co-champion along with UW-La Crosse’s Dani Barmore after posting a school record score of 9.825 in the finals.
Junior Katie Fiorilli also tied for seventh on the uneven bars with a score of 9.725 to earn her third career All-American honor in the event.
In her first collegiate national individual championships freshman Lisa O’Donnell posted a 9.85, the highest score in the school record book, to share the floor title with Gustavus Adolphus State’s Alexandra Kopp.
“When I hear the phrase national champion attached to my name, I feel an extreme amount of pride because it was one of the top goals of mine,” O’Donnell said. “It’s really exciting and I’m looking forward to my next three seasons here at Whitewater.”
O’Donnell is UW-W’s first-ever national championship in the floor event. Junior Courtney Pickett also participated on the floor and tied for fifth in the event with a mark of 9.775.
Ending the meet on a high note as the last gymnast to go on the vault, Fiorilli secured her second-consecutive title on the vault with a school record score of 9.875. Her score tied La Crosse Samantha Wiekamp from earlier in the meet to share the title.
“My team is absolutely awesome and I am so proud that we had champions on all but one event, which is really incredible,” O’Donnell said. “I loved being there with my team because they’re all like my sisters and I love having them behind me and being behind them.”
In three years as a Warhawk, Fiorilli has 10 All-America honors and five individual national titles.
Although no Warhawks were able to capture the title, three Whitewater gymnasts took home All-America accolades from the balance beam, including senior Kristin Shackleton, who earned first team recognition with a score of 9.725.
In her final meet, senior Hannah Lee tied for seventh with a score of 9.65, and Pickett was ninth with a mark of 9.625. Pickett has nine All-America honors in her three years as a Warhawk.
On the team level, UW-W opened the meet on the floor exercise with a team total of 48.725, second-best in Warhawk history.
Heading to the vault, the Warhawks’ 48.300 also moved into second in the school record books.
The team topped itself on the bars to break the school record in the event with a 48.275.
“The team has been there all season pushing and challenging each other,” Regan said. “For us, it’s all about the team. To be able to compete on Saturday, is the icing on the cake.”
Fiorilli totaled a 38.675, second best in program history, in the all-around competition to tie with Wiekamp for second, just 125 thousandths of a point shy of the title. Pickett finished fifth in the all-around with a total of 38.450.
“All of the girls earned this; they all work so hard and they have the best teammates,” Regan said. “Their teammates have helped them and pushed them all season to be the best that they can be.”
UW-La Crosse scored a 193.650 and won the meet, followed by the host school, Brockport College, with UW-W just behind.