Westosha Central graduate Madi Hansen, an accomplished pole vaulter and cheerleader, was named the 2017 Report Female Athlete of the Year by staff (Submitted/The Report).

Gymnastics roots helped Central’s Hansen in cheerleading, track

By Jason Arndt

When Madi Hansen attended Salem Grade School, the 2017 Westosha Central graduate developed the craft of tumbling through gymnastics, where she learned valuable traits that translated into other sports.

The two sports, track and field along with cheerleading, garnered her multiple honors throughout her Westosha Central career, including a WIAA Division 1 sectional pole vault title and state appearance as a senior.

While she cleared the bar, Hansen also contributed to the school’s state cheerleading championship.

For Hansen’s achievements, she was named the 2017 Report Female Athlete of the Year, which was selected by staff.

Her senior achievements, however, would not have been possible without her tumbling background and the Falcon coaches who inspired her to take flight.

“Gymnastics was my sport for my whole life,” she said, noting one of her earliest coaches was Bill Price.

Entering her freshman year at Westosha Central, Hansen came prepared to compete for the school gymnastics team, and also showed an interest in track.

While she flew for the gymnastics team, the Falcons’ track program saw pole vaulting as an event Hansen could excel in, she said.

“They just brought me into pole vaulting because of my gymnastics background,” she said.

“I never really had a problem getting in the air with gymnastics. It really helped me.”

After her freshman year, Hansen joined Kenosha Combined Gymnastics when the Central program disbanded, but made the switch to cheerleading her junior season.

“I tried a year with Kenosha (Combined) Gymnastics and it just wasn’t the same, so I just to decided to go into cheer,” Hansen said. “I am glad I did it.”

Pivotal seasons
In her last two years at Westosha Central, Hansen grew as an athlete, and made a rapid transition to the Falcon cheerleading squad.

As a junior, through the direction of coach Natalia Vernezze, Hansen earned all-state accolades and was part of the state title squad.

Hansen credits Vernezze for her success on the mats.

“She lives and breathes cheer,” Hansen said. “She has sacrificed so much to the sport.”

A year later, when Hansen was a senior, she earned all-SLC championship honors and also contributed to the second-place stunt team consisting of Sara Hebior, Lindsay Mazurek and Lauren LaPlant.

Additionally, Hansen helped the Falcons to another state cheer title, and was part of the team that placed seventh in national competition.

Meanwhile, on the track, Hansen continued to hurdle and clear the bar her junior and senior seasons.

Hansen improved exponentially from her junior to senior seasons in both the pole vault and 300-meter hurdles.

During her junior year, Hansen finished second in the pole vault at the SLC meet with a leap of 9-0, and third in the 300 meter hurdles with a recorded time of 50.58 seconds.

Through her junior season, Hansen recalled a conversation with pole vault coach Dave Mobile, who believed she could significantly improve by the conclusion of her Falcon career.

“He believed in me when I couldn’t believe in myself,” she said. “In my junior year, I started out at 7-6 and he told me by the end of my senior year I was going to be at state.”

At the time, Hansen thought Mobile’s motivation was far-fetched, but came into fruition during her senior year.

“I thought he was crazy, I thought there was no way,” Hansen said.

Large leap
Under Mobile’s guidance, Hansen made a leap in the pole vault, where she won six of her nine meets including an SLC and sectional championship.

Hansen, who notched a personal best 11-0 to win the SLC pole vault title, also won the 300 hurdles with a registered time of 51.65 seconds.

Eventually, Hansen qualified for the state meet in the pole vault, thanks to a sectional title at 10-6.

In the state meet, she matched her then-personal best 11-0, and then reset it at a June 10 Senior Spotlight Meet in Dubuque, Iowa where she registered an 11-6.

The accomplishments, she said, were possible through Mobile’s motivation.

“He believed in me, and I couldn’t have done it without him,” she said. “He is always such a positive person, I can not describe it. He always pushes you to be the best no matter who you are. Even when you are not his athlete.”

Along with Mobile, Hansen also received unconditional support from teammate Amanda Sabourin, who reached the podium in the discus event at the state meet.

“We definitely supported each other all year,” Hansen said.

Next chapter
Hansen attends the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, where she is starting her pursuit of a nursing degree, and is a member of the Titans cheerleading team.

While she dropped track to focus more time on her studies, the potential of joining the track team is “tempting,” she said.


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