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It represented a passing of the guard.

When Franklin, Muskego, Oak Creek and Whitnall gymnast Sam Balcerak was a freshman in 2013, she was the newcomer on a WIAA state championship team that had eight seniors on it.

And now Balcerak, who is a a senior herself, is going out as a three-time state champion with fellow senior Erin Scholz.

Those two were the last holdovers from the 2014 championship squad, and they are passing the torch onto talented freshmen Krystal Nelson and Holli Anderson as the local co-op won its fifth WIAA D1 state title in six years in Wisconsin Rapids on March 4.

It was a moment that evoked mixed feelings in veteran coach Katie Moore.

'The girls were so focused,' she said. 'This meet was one of those perfect coaching moments where all the things you've been working on all year come together; it was awesome.'

And it made up for a little bit of a disappointment last season as FMOW was second to Arrowhead, a rare defeat that broke a string of four straight WIAA D1 crowns.

'This is actually sad to see because Erin and Sam have been such fixtures for the program for so long,' Moore said, 'but the neat thing is that Krystal, Holli and Abigail (junior vaulter Missiaen) all have little sisters coming up, and we're looking forward to passing the torch with them.'

FMOW turned in a championship mark of 149.3167 that beat Southeast Conference rival Kenosha for the title. Kenosha turned in a season best of 147.6 for its runner-up spot. Kenosha was second to FMOW in both the preceding conference and WIAA sectional meets.

The local co-op's score is the second best in state history next to FMOW's 2013 state-winning total of 150.516.

Moore knew Kenosha would bring its best, and it brought out the best in her squad.

'It feels so much better to go out and win it with your best meet of the season,' she said. 'It was actually a perfect story. Everyone (almost all the teams) was having such a great day, and it feels so much better when you win a title that way.

'You can win when someone (your opponent) is having a bad day, but it's just perfect when you win and everyone is at their best.'

Defending state champion Arrowhead was third in the 10-team field with a 144.2667.

A fantastic start led to the title for FMOW. It turned in meet best-team scores on floor exercise (37.3), vault (38.0) and uneven bars (36.967) as Kenosha just narrowly edged them out 37.067 to 37.05 on the balance beam.

They began on floor exercise where every score they turned in was over nine. Balcerak came in with a 9.433, Nelson 9.3 and Scholz and Anderson 9.283 each.

Vault came up next, and scores were fantastic for the event all weekend long for everyone. Missiaen turned in the second-best effort on vault in the team competition with a 9.85 as Scholz helped out with a 9.567, Anderson 9.383 and Balcerak 9.2.

'The floor gave us such great momentum,' said Moore. 'There was a lot of focus. The kids were just so into the meet all night long.'

There was no letdown on bars and beam as FMOW happily claimed its title.

Moore wishes the individual competition on March 5 could have gone better as almost right away on uneven bars, Scholz was sliding under the low bar when she caught her foot and torqued her knee. She was done for the day, and the injury was still being evaluated as of March 7.

'It was really unfortunate,' Moore said, 'and everybody felt really bad. Fortunately she still has Friday and the team title, but no one wants to see that.'

Even with that edge taken off the day, the individual competition was still a success for FMOW, as Nelson took second on beam (9.383); Balcerak was the same on floor exercise (9.4) and uneven bars (9.33); and Missiaen was third on vault (9.7).

So deep was the vault that a total of 11 performers turned in scores of 9.5 or more.

Moore said she had such fun with this group this season.

'This lineup was so different (from two years ago) because for four of the six this is their first state title,' she said. 'I love this group of kids. They were hardworking kids. You put a goal in front of them, and they just stuck with it.'