Warriors place in NCGA Championships
Emma Cavanaugh / Winonan
Last weekend three Winona State University gymnasts traveled to Menomonie, Wisc. for the NCGA Individual National Championships. On March 31, junior Eboni Jackson competed in the all-around competition, and the following day she competed on the floor event. Junior Katie Pipp went to compete on bars, and first-year Kelly Johnston competed on the beam event.
Jackson took a 9.850 on the floor to win the national title, and a score of 37.200 in the all-around event. This score on the first day of competition earned her seventh place and All-American Honors.
“It’s very rewarding and exciting because your goal all season is to qualify for nationals, and once you get there… you kind of just do it and have fun,” Jackson said about her nationals trip.
This is Jackson’s second year winning a national title. Last year she took the title in the all-around event.
“I think the challenge is that there are a lot of other good people on other teams, and you have to make sure you stay consistent on your events… so as long as you do your best, you’ll be great,” she said.
On the beam, Johnston took a 9.375 for ninth place.
“I went in there without knowing how it worked at all, so I just went in there with the mentality of having fun and doing what I’ve been working for, so it’s awesome how that turned out,” she said.
As a first-year student, this was Johnston’s first experience at nationals.
“It’s super fun,” she said about the championships. “It’s loud and crazy and everyone’s just there to have fun. It’s less stressful than any of the other competitions I would say. Going in there, I didn’t really know what it was going to be like, but it was fun and exciting and upbeat.”
The whole team carpooled to Menomonie to support the girls who advanced to nationals.
“It was really cool because when I got to go up on beam, all the freshmen were there on the side where the beam was. They were really close to the beam which was really nice because it was like they were on the floor with me,” Johnston said.
Pipp received a score of 9.375 on the bars, taking home 16th place.
“I could have done better,” she said. “I had a little mishap on my landing. I took a couple steps, but I did the best jaeger of my life. It’s like a release move, it’s a new trick that I put in my routine so it was just exciting to put that in there and do it at nationals.”
Of the three years Pipp has competed for Winona, she has qualified either individually or with the team for nationals every year.
“It’s definitely way more fun as a team when we all make it, because you’re there and I’m personally not a fan of competing for my own self. I like competing for a team, I do better when I compete for other people and when my performance affects other people, it just makes it more fun for me,” she said. Although she placed 16th, Pipp said she was happy with her performance.
“I obviously wanted to do better and be an All-American, but that’s just a piece of paper. I’m just happy I made it there and got to represent our school,” she said.
Not only did their teammates come to support the triad of gymnasts, but so did many family members. Jackson’s mother came to support her, as did Johnston’s whole family. For Pipp, not only did her family come, but her boyfriend and his family as well.
“Also, my brother got to finally come see me compete, and he’s been in the army for the past four years so he hasn’t been able to come and watch me do anything. It was really nice that he got out the weekend before nationals so that he could come see me.” Pipp said.
At the NCGA Championships there were a few differences the gymnasts noticed between nationals and a regular season competition.
“It’s nice on the individual day, because you’re not there with a team so everyone is supportive of everyone, and you make friends with other girls on the other teams, and you just make friends with everyone who’s in there,” Johnston said about the individual competition.
Jackson agreed and said, “I think on individual days you go one at a time, so it’s really interesting to see everyone else’s event. On team day, everyone goes at the same time so you don’t really know what’s going on.”
Pipp said she is still under pressure while competing at nationals.
“You just want to do the best you can, nationally,” she said. “You’ve been working all year to put together your routines, and you just want to show it off the best you can because of all the work you’ve put in.”
By Emma Cavanaugh