FRANKLIN, Wis. — Jay Ratkowski started gymnastics a little after most of those at her ability level.
"Seven years old is pretty late for most gymnasts, especially at my level," Ratkowski says. “Usually they start in 'Mommy and me' classes at two or three years old.”
But clearly, her and her peers at Altius Gymnastics in Franklin caught up quickly.
"They were a special group and we called them the x-factors," Bill Wall says. "That’s the unknown, but it also stands for ten. That’s the perfect score."
She set records at Level 9 and 10 and became the first Altius gymnast to qualify for the prestigious Westerns.
"It was the first time that Altius had ever sent someone to Westerns, like ever before in Altius history," Ratkowski says. “So I was the starter of going to Westerns and those bigger meets.”
But she never competed for her high school, due to the demands of her sport.
"I knew that club and high school would be way too much to manage, first of all," Ratkowski says. “And especially during seasons, since the seasons overlap.”
Another difference? While some only want a Division One sport in college, Ratkowski believes her best spot is with the two-time defending champs, UW-Oshkosh in Division 3.
"She brought out the national ring that they had and she was like, ‘Do you want to be on a winning team, or just a team?’ And that really stuck with me," Ratkowski says.
"Oshkosh is the national champions, division 3," Bill Wall says. “They have a powerful team, a good coach, and a very exciting arena to step into. She made a good choice.”
Gymnasts like Ratkowski can find success - and the path to it - in different ways and it’s also great to see strong in-state athletes in college programs.
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