Sparta Gymnastics building something special

Team has qualified for State 2 years in a row; Team had never made it before last year

Sparta gymnastics is building on their first-ever team appearance at State a season ago by going right back again this year.

Juniors Lily Wiegand, Savannah Clark, and Taylor Opper, plus sophomore Ella Hemker are about as consistent a top four as you’re going to see in this area. The team finished top 6 at State a year ago, with Wiegand taking second at vault and Hemker fourth on beam.

COVID kept these athletes away from the gym most of their offseason, so this shorter season has been all about refining routines that worked so well for them last year.

“I was a little nervous at the beginning of the season just to get back into competing, but I’ve definitely gotten more confident throughout the season, especially on vault,” said Hemker.

“Just trying to upscale my routines as much as possible,” Clark said. “Bars has definitely been a change with different release moves that I’ve done.”

“I’m doing the same vault [as last year’s second-place winning vault],” said Wiegand. “I just didn’t really practice it, so I took some time off that so I could focus it in my mind better.”

This young core is now making State a yearly expectation for themselves, and they take a lot of pride in making their program one of the most successful in their school.

“The teammates are so helpful. It’s like a little family,” Hemker said.

“Our confidence level is way up there,” said Wiegand. “It’s nice being the first Sparta team to make it last season, and then make it again. It just helps us show we can actually be a team, work together, and show the school we actually are something.”

Sparta is in the first session of D2 State this Saturday at PEG in La Crosse, beginning at noon.