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Raiders set 16 personal bests, but it’s not quite enough in loss

Raiders set 16 personal bests, but it’s not quite enough in loss Raiders set 16 personal bests, but it’s not quite enough in loss


Recording 16 personal bests between its varsity and JV squads would normally mean a winning performance for the Medford Co-op gymnastics team.

Unfortunately, on Thursday, they just met the wrong team.

The Marshfield Tigers, led by one of the state’s best gymnasts in Gracie Holland, were able to outscore the Raiders’ varsity team 135.675-125.35 in the Great Northern Conference crossover team, while Marshfield also won the JV meet 114.7-96.45.

Medford’s varsity team score was its lowest in three meets, but it also comes with an asterisk since top gymnast Brooklyn Bilz, after battling an illness all week, only participated in two events and Makala Ulrich also was held out of the floor exercise to protect a tender ankle.

Those who did compete did quite well, according to head coach Steve Cain.

“It would’ve been a meet that I just know we would’ve been approaching again the team record,” Cain said. “No doubt in my mind. When you look at it from that aspect with the lineup that we had, they did a great job.”

The varsity meet was highlighted by two personal-best all-around totals posted by freshmen Anna Wanke and Kate Malchow. Wanke increased by 0.375 points from the season opener and totaled 32.525 points, good for third place out of four all-around gymnasts in the meet. Malchow inched up 0.25 points from the Dec. 14 Rhinelander meet and finished with 32.4 all-around points.

Wanke and Malchow both had top-five placements in the floor exercise. Wanke’s 8.9 was her best score so far, beating her old high of 8.8 and just off her goal of a 9.0. She got second behind Holland’s 9.4. Malchow was fifth with her 8.15, while freshman Avery Purdy was eighth with her personal-best 7.6, Kiarah Behling was ninth with a personal-best 6.55 and junior Lydia Sigmund stepped into a varsity spot and was 10th with her 5.8.

“Everybody did a great job,” Cain said. “Kiarah PR’d. Avery PR’d. Anna PR’d. Anna had a great routine on floor, she really rocked it with her 8.9. She was hoping for a 9.0. It looked like a 9.0 routine. That’s exciting when you’re looking at our situation now and it’s not ‘let’s get the 8s.’ Now we’re looking at 9s.”

Malchow’s first personal-best score of the meet came on the uneven bars where she was second with her 8.0. Holland won with an impressive 9.6. Malchow edged out Marshfield’s Hanna Merkel by 0.05 points for second place. Ulrich was fifth with her 7.675, Wanke tied Marshfield’s Alexis Mushel for sixth with her 7.575, Purdy was ninth at 6.8 and Bilz competed but wasn’t herself, earning a 6.3.

“Kate PR’d by three tenths,” Cain said. “When you’re at a varsity spot and you’re at that skill level and you start PRing every meet or staying consistent, going up two or three tenths, that means you’re right on track, and she was. Anna just was .025 away from the best score she’s gotten so far. So she’s not that far off and neither is Makala. Neither is Avery. They were right there.”

Ulrich earned third-place finishes on both the vault and balance beam. Her vault score of 8.5 trailed Holland (9.1) and Merkel (8.6). Malchow (8.35), Wanke (8.2), Kennedy Bilz (8.1) and Brooklyn Bilz (8.05) were seventh through 10th. The team’s score of 33.15 in the event was too far off its season-best of 34.0.

“We had no PRs, but actually what you don’t see in PRs you do see improvements being made,” Cain said.

Ulrich’s 8.25 on the beam trailed Holland (9.15) and Jade Scholl (8.75). She was 0.2 points ahead of the fourth-place Merkel. Malchow’s 7.9 was a personal best and good for fifth place. Wanke’s 7.85 was a new high score for her and placed sixth. Purdy was ninth with a 6.95 and Kara Hudak was 10th for Medford with her 6.7. Cain said Purdy was two minor falls away from a personal-best 7.95. The first came when she aggressively tried to do a double turn and just missed it. The second Cain took responsibility for when he noticed too late that the landing mat was not where it should have been.

“She did her back tuck and she landed right on the edge of that mat,” Cain said. “It was at an angle. It is a coach’s responsibility to make sure those mats are in place. I don’t know how that mat got pulled crooked. I felt really bad. She did a great job.”

Holland’s winning all-around total was 37.25 points, while Merkel was second with 33.1.

In the JV meet, Raider freshman Brooke Wegerer was the meet’s only all-around gymnast and she finished a strong night with 26.3 points. She tied for third place on the floor with a 6.7, while Kennedy Bilz was sixth with her 6.0, Olivia Krug tied for seventh at 5.9 and Kylie Vasicek was ninth with a 5.1.

“Every single person on the floor PR’d by quite a bit,” Cain said. “Brooke went from 5.6 to a 6.7. Huge jump. She did a great job. She’s been working hard. When she wants to get something accomplished and puts her mind to it she doesn’t let anybody stop her. She did great. Kylie has work to do, but she went from a 4.0 to a 5.1. Brooke, Olivia and Kennedy, once they get more tumbling done and all their requirements, there are going to be some pretty interesting things to see with those girls. They have dance, they like to have fun on the floor. It’s one event they just simply enjoy.”

Wegerer’s fourth-place score of 6.6 on the balance beam was impressive because, Cain said, it was an ad-libbed routine. She hadn’t been working on a beam routine in practice. Krug was seventh with a 5.1, followed by Abbi Potocnik (4.9) and Alisha Jochimsen (4.7).

Hudak led the Raiders on the bars with a 6.5. Wegerer earned a 5.8, Sigmund got a 5.6, Behling’s score was 3.8 and Vasicek got a 2.5. On the vault, Purdy led the way with a 7.7, Hudak earned a 7.45, Behling got a 7.4 and Wegerer got a 7.2.

“Our depth on vault between our varsity and JV is just huge,” Cain said. “Everybody is scoring above a 7.0. In the varsity lineup, everybody is above an 8.0.”

Medford is now in the midst of a four-week break from competition. The Raiders will host Chequamegon in Great Northern Conference Small Division competition on Jan. 16.

“Now it’s fine tuning and adding,” Cain said. “I told the girls if you’re going to change any of your events, change one thing at a time. Get it spot on, get it perfected before you move on to another thing. If you try too many things, you’re going to be rushing to get stuff done and you’re going to be working on it in the last quarter of the season. The last quarter of the season is no time to be trying to fix updates or upgrades. You have to have your upgrades done before that.”