While Brookfield’s girls gymnastics team may not have walked away with the team state championship, the Central and East co-op stole the show at the individual event competition with two gymnasts winning state championships and seven claiming spots on the podium.
A day after Brookfield placed third in state for the highest finish in program history, senior Caitlin Locante claimed the state title on the floor exercise with a record-breaking performance and freshman Lexi Penney won the state balance beam championship at the two-day state meet held March 3-4 in Wisconsin Rapids.
Franklin/Muskego/Oak Creek/Whitnall scored a 147.8167 to win its sixth team state crown over the past seven years. Kenosha United placed second with a 146.8333 followed by Brookfield at 144.7667, the second-highest score in program history.
Locante, Penney, junior Lexi Romero, junior Rose Dundun, freshman Sophie Latona and freshman Riley Feng comprised the lineup for team competition. Unfortunately, Brookfield had to compete without junior Christina Kirmis, who suffered a torn ACL during sectionals.
The two individual state championships leave Brookfield with five since the program became a co-op in 1999-2000. Amanda Pennow won titles on the uneven bars in 2014 and 2016 and Amanda Cotter won on the beam in 2004.
"This was by far the most successful weekend for Brookfield in team history," Brookfield coach Erin Kokta said. "I can confidently say that the team this year was the best team in the 17 years (of the co-op). I am so proud of how the girls conducted themselves all weekend.
"We had four new teammates, three of those being freshmen, this year that have never felt the pressure of the state meet who really stepped up to fill spots on the team. My veteran state girls were amazing and supportive to lead those who have not yet experienced the team day of state, which is hands down my favorite meet of the year. It's so focused on the team as the whole and nowhere is any emphasis put on individuals. It's a great atmosphere to be a part of. All of the teams there are so amazing and they make you strive to be better."
Locante scored a 9.750 on the floor exercise to break the state record of 9.70 set by Theresa Hummer of Mukwonago/Kettle Moraine in 2008. She easily finished ahead of teammate Lexi Romero, who took second with a 9.583.
"She competed the best floor routine I have ever seen her do," Kokta said. "Our goal for her was to walk out of her last meet knowing that she put it all out on the floor and to know that she couldn't give any more to the sport that she loves and whatever happens, happens. But I knew that if she did that she could walk away with a state title, which is one of the only things she had yet to accomplish.
"I am so proud of her. It was a very emotional and exciting moment for all of us. She had her whole team crying with excitement and happiness for her."
Penney scored a 9.550 on the balance beam to edge the 9.517 posted by Erin Wagner of Waukesha to become the lone freshman to win a state title.
"Her beam routine was nearly flawless," Kokta said. "I was very impressed with the way that she handled the pressure. She had one of her best meets of the season and also placed eighth in the all-around. She worked so hard this year, and I couldn't be more happy for her successes as only a freshman. She's someone to keep an eye for the next three years."
Romero didn’t win an event title but she was Brookfield’s highest finisher in the all-around, placing third with a 37.667. In addition to taking second on the floor, she also reached the podium on the beam by taking fourth with a 9.400 and on the vault with a fifth-place finish in 9.483. She missed the podium by just one spot in the uneven bars by coming in seventh with a 9.200.
Locante was sixth in the all-around (37.450), seventh on vault (9.417), eighth on the uneven bars (9.167) and 11th on the beam (9.117) and Penney was eighth in the all-around (36.783) and ninth on the floor (9.267).
"Lexi Romero was the best all-around Brookfield gymnast on the day," Kokta said. "Lexi just keeps getting better and better every year. She has made the podium on one or more events ever since she was a freshman, and this year she was just one place away from making it on the podium in all events. And all of this was done after an injury she sustained by hitting her foot on the bars during team day."