Tracy Howard wanted more.
And one can't blame her for being greedy. The retiring Menomonee Falls/Germantown co-op gymnastics coach saw her team turn in a season-best score in the WIAA sectional meet at Arrowhead on Saturday and she was pleased for her senior individual state qualifiers Lizzy Gilbert and Aerial Holt.
But the Indians came up just short of that greatest-going-away present for their coach, for despite that season best score of 138.875, they came up just 1.475 points away from that coveted state team berth, as they claimed third in the eight-squad field.
"We had our best meet," she said, "and it still wasn't quite enough. The sad thing about it, is that I think we're still capable of more. We put 100 percent into this team thing. We're proud of Aerial and Lizzy, but there's nothing like experiencing that team success.
"I'm just sad that these kids don't get to experience it one last time."
Howard had led Menomonee Falls and the current co-op to state team berths in 1997 and 2007, respectively.
But the Indians will still get a chance to celebrate the 24 years of Howard's excellent work when Holt (vault, floor exercise and all-around) and Gilbert (balance beam) take part in the WIAA individual championships at Wisconsin Rapids on March 1, starting at 5:40 p.m.
The team championships will be held at 11 a.m. March 2.
Given her disappointment, Howard is still going to enjoy every moment of this weekend.
"I really can't wait," she said with a chuckle. "I wish I could skip school and go tomorrow (meaning this past Monday)."
At the sectional, Homestead (141.575) and Arrowhead (140.35) claimed the state team berths ahead of the Indians.
The floor exercise was the best event for the local co-op, as it turned in a 35.675 team mark. Holt earned a state berth on the event with a second-place finish of 9.275. Paige Lemley (8.9), Brigid Doyle (8.75) and Gilbert (8.75) also turned in sound efforts in the event.
Floor was actually the last event for the Indians on this day and Howard noted that the team could have done even better.
"We just had a little too much adrenaline going," she said, pointing out that the Indians had excellent efforts on their two weakest events, the bars and the vault.
"We just nailed them," said Howard, "but scores on beam were not what we thought they'd be and that led to us to trying a little too hard on floor."
The floor qualification was still a part of a great day for Holt as she claimed a second berth on vault with a tie for fifth (9.1) and earned an all-around slot with a fourth-place showing of 34.875.
Gilbert earned her spot on beam, with a tie for fourth on beam (8.925).
Lemley was the unfortunate hard-luck case for the Indians this day, as she was one place out of state berths in two events. She turned in a sixth-place on the uneven bars with an 8.675 mark that was just 0.025 away from a state berth. She was in the same place in the all-around, taking sixth with a 34.55 mark, a score that was just 0.125 away from a state slot.
In addition, she was also eighth on vault with a fine 9.05 score.
But as Howard noted, there were no losers this day, as the local co-op will celebrate her final meet in Rapids this weekend the way she wants.
"We'll all go together," she said. "As a team."
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