Warhawk gymnastics headed back to nationals


Ky McCombe

Sophomore, all around Kelsey Kollhoff takes to the floor while performing for the WIAC Championships, Saturday evening, March 3, 2022.

Parker Olsen, Sports Editor

The UW-Whitewater gymnastics team took second place at the WIAC conference championships, which the team hosted in Kachel Fieldhouse Saturday, March 5. As a top three finisher of the WIAC championship, the Warhawks advance to the NCGA National Championship. The team had five gymnasts place across three categories.

“I’m just so proud of the team and what they did today,”said Warhawk head coach Jennifer Regan. “It means a lot.” 

Whitewater’s gymnasts were excited to compete in front of an electric and loud crowd that gathered for the conference championship. Regan was thrilled to have such a large crowd at Whitewater’s own facility.

“Oh my gosh! Well first of all, having two years off of not having conference and then we get to have it here at our own facility was amazing,” Regan said. “We had a great fan base tonight which was great, I think that just helps promote Whitewater’s gymnastics team here on our campus. We were really pumped to be able to host and then just feed off the energy.”

Both Regan and gymnast Emily North felt that the team thrived in the intense atmosphere, and were excited to compete with their best in front of so many fans.

“I loved the crowd here, they were so easy to feed off of,” North said. “They were great.”  

Warhawk Gymnastics started the day strong and continued their success throughout each of the events. The team opened with Floor, a category that North and Kelsey Kollhoff finished second and third in, respectively. After the first event the Warhawks continued to perform well, however they know that they could do better.

“We started off on Floor, I thought we did a great job right from the get go. Then we followed up on Vault, we had a great day on Vault as well,” Regan said. “Then we had Bars, we had a couple mistakes here and there, things that we can get back in the gym and fix. Same thing on Beam, they were really tired, it was hot in here at the end. They really stayed focused and it was a good meet for us for sure, but there are a lot of things we can improve and fix.”

Whitewater’s success was highlighted by a first place finish in All-Around by senior Emily North, with a score of 38.325 out of a possible 40 points. Despite the atmosphere, North did not feel any added pressure.

“I came out here and I just did what I’ve been practicing. Same for my teammates, we’ve all been putting in so many hours in the gym and it paid off,” North said.

Regan was incredibly proud of North for her first place finish – the second Warhawk to win the conference All-Around title in a row.

“She’s gone through a lot here in the last four years so for her to be the conference champion in the All-Around was just really phenomenal and super exciting. We had the last conference champion too, which is really cool to have back to back,” Regan said.

Warhawks Rachel Lewellen and Kara Welch tied for second place in the Vault, both obtaining a score of 9.775 which was a tenth of a point short of first place.

The Warhawks now set their eyes on the NCGA Championship in Ithaca, New York, which will take place March 26. Whitewater gymnastics is no stranger to the national scale, the team has finished third place or better at the national event every year since 2009. During that time they racked up five national titles as a team, and this team knows it could win another.

“We had some mistakes and stuff today for sure, so I honestly truly believe any of us could go out there and contend for an All-American or national championship in each event. But our focus is on our team. When we do that, that’s when we perform our best,” Regan said. 

The team finished the regular season 10-0 in WIAC play and had two losses out of conference – both to teams outside of Division III. At Saturday’s tournament the Warhawk team came in just .425 behind No. 3 in the country UW-Oshkosh who took the crown. Whitewater finished the day with a score of 191.875 in the WIAC championship, now the No. 2 team in the country.