Sports

Wiczkowski finding role in first year

Breahna Wiczkowski chose gymnastics over her agricultural hobby.

Breahna Wiczkowski performs on balance beam at the Temple University gymnastics meet Saturday Feb. 6 at McGonigle Hall. | ELIZABETH MAVER TTN

Breahna Wiczkowski performs on balance beam Saturday in the Ken Anderson Memorial Invitational at McGonigle Hall. | ELIZABETH MAVER TTN

Growing up in Lititz, Pennsylvania, Breahna Wiczkowski was active in numerous sports from soccer to gymnastics and dance.

When the freshman gymnast was not active on the field or the floor, she spent her time at an alpaca farm in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She sheared the animals, cleaned their pens and made sure the farm ran smoothly.

She stuck with the hobby while attending Warwick High School and training at Prestige Gymnastics in Lancaster, but she gave up work at the farm to focus on gymnastics, where she became a two-time level 10 national qualifier, three-time Region 7 qualifier and four-time level 10 state qualifier.

“She comes from a really outstanding gym that produces hard working, very respectful, dedicated athletes,” coach Umme Salim-Beasley said. “You can’t help but feed off her positivity. As far as an athlete in the gym, she is such a hard worker. You cannot find a more dedicated gymnast on this team.”

When deciding which college to attend, Wiczkowski said it was important she liked the school, even if she did not participate in gymnastics. Wiczkowski considered Lititz a small town and wanted to experience a big city.

“I have had a great time at Temple, I love Philly, and I love this school,” Wiczkowski said. “I chose Temple basically because when I came in and watched practice, all the girls seemed like they were so much fun and had really good chemistry.”

Wiczkowski has participated in beam and bars for the Owls. The freshman posted a career-high 9.7 on her beam routine both at a Jan. 3 meet against Central Michigan University and the Jan. 17 Lindsey Ferris Invitational at George Washington University.

On bars, Wiczkowski has improved her score each time she’s competed. She posted a 9.475 in the Owls’ Jan. 15 win against William & Mary College, a 9.5 at the Lindsey Ferris Invitational and a season-high 9.65 at Temple’s Jan. 29 quad meet at West Chester University.

Wiczkowski scored a season-high 9.725 on bars at Saturday’s Ken Anderson Memorial Invitational.

“As a gymnast she is such a strong leader,” freshman all-around India Anderson said of Wiczkowski. “She gives us encouragement. When I’m on the floor, she gets me hyped for that because seeing her do so well makes me want to do well.”

Anderson and Wiczkowski are two of six freshmen on this year’s team. The squad had four first-year gymnasts last year.

Salim-Beasley said the impact Anderson and Wiczkowski have had as freshmen sets a precedent for future recruits to the program.

“They’re the first step as far as us building on to higher-caliber athletes,” Salim-Beasley said. “It’s creating a culture and changing the culture of what was Temple in the past.”

Dan Newhart can be reached at daniel.john.newhart@temple.edu or on Twitter @dannynewhart

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