GMC’s Miller places second on floor at state gymnastics championship

Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau/Melrose-Mindoro/Cochrane-Fountain City co-op senior Abby Miller performed her floor routine at Saturday's WIAA Division Two individual state gymnastics championship at Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln High School. Miller earned runner-up honors in the event and took ninth in the all-around competition in her fourth straight tournament appearance. (Times photograph by Benjamin Pierce)

Ever since reaching the podium at the WIAA Division Two individual state gymnastics championships as a freshman, Abby Miller has aimed to claim another top-six finish among the state’s best.

The senior did even better at Saturday’s championship meet at Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln High School. In her fourth straight qualification, Miller closed her gymnastics career by tying for the state runner-up spot on floor. 

Miller’s 9.383 tied the Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau/Melrose-Mindoro/Cochrane-Fountain City co-op senior with Kaylee Frank of Elkhorn for second place and was beaten only by Nicolet senior Cassi Hansen’s 9.433.

“It's gonna mean the world to me,” Miller told the Times of her finish minutes before results went final on Saturday. “I haven't been on the podium since my freshman year, so it'd be really great to make it back my senior year.”

Miller opened Saturday with her floor routine, an event that’s grown to be one of her strongest—the senior claimed the program record (9.75) on floor last month after scoring an 8.933 at last year’s state meet.

While Miller is proud of the skill and work it took to reach the state tournament, both she and her coach said part of the strength in Saturday’s routine wasn’t anything they could practice. 

It was more about letting Miller’s passion for the sport show.

“She loves her routine, and she gets so well into it,” GMC coach Emily Palmen said. “The judges can see how happy she is and how much she shows it off. Her tumbling was so clean and it was just wonderful today, one of her best floor routines all year.”

Miller’s eyes were still glossed over from joyful tears as she talked about her final showing as a member of the GMC team. Miller’s main focus on Saturday was getting back to the podium, but she emphasized enjoying the process in getting there, too.

“It (Miller’s goal) was just to have fun and do your best because that's really all you can do,” she said. “You can just hope that you get a good score and do everything you can.”

Miller finished 12th on the balance beam with an 8.6, with Waupun’s Abby Roecker taking the top score with a 9.267. Miller’s other chance to reach the podium came in the all-around scores, where her 35.633 was good for ninth place in a 25-gymnast field.

Hansen finished with three individual championships, including a 37.417 in the all-around and a 9.6 on the uneven bars.

Miller's all-around score included an 8.5 on bars and a 9.3 on vault, but she wasn’t eligible to place in those individual events after not qualifying in the sectional.

The vault score helped her all-around finish and came after she carded a lower 8.967 on her first attempt. She responded with the higher score in her second try.

“I just told myself that I had to give it my all and do my best because it was my last shot,” she said of the turnaround.

Miller said the part of gymnastics she will miss most is the support and camaraderie from her teammates and coaches.

As Miller and her coach stood fighting tears on Saturday at the conclusion of a long—and successful—career, that support showed fully.

“She had one of her best meets ever today, and we're really gonna miss her next year,” Palmen said.

“She did so well, and we’re just so proud.”

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