Posted on

Raiders closing in on third GNC Small title in four seasons

Raiders closing in on third GNC Small title in four seasons Raiders closing in on third GNC Small title in four seasons


The Medford Raiders took a big step toward earning their third Great Northern Conference Small Division championship in four years by securing a 127.525-115.075 win at Rhinelander Tuesday night.

The Raiders had the top scorers in every event, including the top five on the vault, and had the night’s top three allaround scorers in Brooklyn Bilz, Makala Ulrich and Kate Malchow.

It was a meet where head coach Steve Cain felt things were a little off, but when it was all said and done, the scores were fairly solid and the team score improved nearly a point and a half from Medford’s Thursday meet with Lakeland.

Now at 4-0 in the GNC Small, the Raiders have eight points in the team standings and will take a two-point lead over Rhinelander into the Feb. 22 GNC meet at Chequamegon. At the conference meet, the top team will get eight points, the second place team will get six and so on.

If the Raiders stay reasonably healthy and keep scoring like they are, they aren’t likely to have any worries about falling out of the top spot.

“The highlight is collectively they won the meet,” Cain said Wednesday. “We’re 4-0 and they should be proud of being 4-0. What team doesn’t have ups and downs right now? Most of them are talking about things they have to improve on and work on starting tonight, which is good.”

There were no personal-best scores recorded by Medford in the varsity meet, but several efforts weren’t far off.

Medford’s clean sweep of the top spots in vault featured freshmen Anna Wanke and Kennedy Bilz tying for first place with 8.3s and Brooklyn Bilz coming in right behind them at 8.2. Ulrich and Malchow tied for fourth with 8.15s.

Medford’s 33.9 points in the floor exercise put the Raiders just 0.05 points behind their best score of the year in that event.

“Floor was probably the highlight of the night,” Cain said.

Malchow won it with an 8.6, just a tenth away from her personal best. Brooklyn Bilz was second with an 8.55 and Anna Wanke was third with her 8.5. Ulrich was fourth with an 8.25, just 0.05 points behind Hodag Lilli Bishop. Raider freshman Avery Purdy was ninth at 7.55, just a tenth off her personal-best score.

On the balance beam, Wanke earned an 8.25 to take first place, while Malchow was second at 7.95 and Brooklyn Bilz was third at 7.725. Ulrich’s 7.3 was good for sixth and Purdy’s 7.125 put her in eighth place.

Brooklyn Bilz won the uneven bars with a 7.9 as she edged out Ulrich (7.6) and Purdy (7.4). Malchow placed fifth at 6.55 behind Bishop (6.75) and Medford’s Kara Hudak tied Hodag Bridget Koser for sixth at 6.35.

Brooklyn Bilz’s all-around total was 32.375, Ulrich’s was 31.3 and Malchow’s was 31.25. Bishop was the best of Rhinelander’s three all-arounds with 30.1 total points.

“They have proven that if they stay strong, we’re looking at a possible sectional championship,” Cain said. “We want to take that. They want it. But they’ve got a little work to do.” The Raiders did set some personal records while winning Tuesday’s JV meet 64.9-42.1.

“They keep bringing their PRs up,” Cain said of his younger gymnasts. “They keep making those little improvements, they keep pushing it forward.”

Kiarah Behling won three events for Medford. She took the vault with a personal-best 7.9, edging Hudak by one tenth of a point. Purdy was third at 7.6 and Abbi Potocnik set a personal best at 7.1 while taking fourth.

Behling set a personal-best while winning the bars with a 4.4. She got a 6.2 on the floor to edge Kennedy Bilz, who was second with a 6.2.

“They didn’t PR, but it didn’t matter,” Cain said of Behling and Bilz. “They went out there and they gave it 100%. I could see that. They missed some things they have to fix.”

Brooke Wegerer set a personal-best score of 7.1 to take second on the balance beam. Hudak was third with her 6.3 and Potocnik was fourth with a 4.5.

“Brooke hurt her elbow and she wasn’t going to compete on anything,” Cain said. “She gave beam a chance and she actually did an awesome job. She PR’d by 0.1. What I saw was a little bit better than a 0.1 improvement. She did great.”

Before the Feb. 22 GNC meet, Medford will have one more tune-up this Saturday at the Ashland Invitational, which gets underway at 10:15 a.m.

Raiders 126.1, T-Birds 89.95

Five days after setting the school’s new team score record, the Raiders celebrated Senior and Youth Night Thursday with a solid 126.1-89.95 victory over Lakeland in the final home meet of the season.

Medford was without top all-around Brooklyn Bilz and minimized the work load for Megan and Anna Wanke, but the team still put up good numbers as it took another step toward a repeat conference championship.

Cain saw the team’s 29.925 points on the uneven bars as one of the night’s main highlights.

Medford’s four scorers took the top four places in the event, led by Ulrich’s 7.825. Malchow and Purdy tied for second with 7.675s. That was a personal best for Purdy. Hudak, who got all the Senior Night accolades being the only one on the team, was fourth with her 6.75 and Wegerer was ninth with her 5.95.

“Brooke did an impressive job on bars,” Cain said. “Makala is consistent. ... She’s got a lot of catching up to do from her injury. We just have to keep pushing her. Keep working her hard. She’ll be there. She’s not far from where her PR is. Kara did a routine with beautiful form. She had tight legs. She did everything she was supposed to do. ... Avery had the attitude of, ‘I got this Steve. This is a good night. I got this.’ Sure enough she did. She connected everything with her high bar skills and her dismount. I think she surprised herself.”

The Raiders finished the meet with 33.3 points in the floor exercise, only a half-point behind their score of the previous meet.

Anna Wanke was entered in just two events, but she clinched her second win with an 8.75 floor score. Malchow (8.5), Ulrich (8.05), Megan Wanke (8.0) and Purdy (7.55) completed Medford’s sweep of the top five scores in the event.

“I told the girls I just wanted them to go out there and have fun,” Cain said. “I think they did.”

The Raiders started the meet with 31.95 points on the vault. Ulrich and Malchow tied for first place with 8.2s. Kennedy Bilz tied Lakeland’s Julie Neuburg for third with her 7.9. Hudak was fifth with a 7.65 and Purdy got a 7.5 to take sixth.

Anna Wanke’s first win of the night came on the balance beam, where she took a big jump from a previous best of 7.85 to an 8.325. Ulrich (7.85), Malchow (7.45) and Purdy followed (7.3) and Hudak tied Neuburg for fifth with her 6.85, fighting hard a couple of times to stay on the beam.

“Anna PR’d huge,” Cain said. “That girl was steady on the beam. She reminded me of how confident Brooklyn was when she got her school record. Seriously it did. It kinda reminded me of that. That was great. She was so steady. She was doing (her dismount) at practice and she wasn’t nailing it all week. She just wasn’t getting it. She was landing it but not opening up. Tonight, she opened up, she didn’t fall, she was in good position. Kara didn’t have any falls. I think 6.85 was about what she got last time. I think she wanted it tonight.”

Ulrich edged Malchow by a tenth of a point, 31.925 to 31.825 to take all-around honors. Purdy tied her personal-best total with a third-place mark of 30.025.

In JV competition, which only consisted of Raiders, Behling won the floor exercise with a personal-best 7.1 and the bars with a personal-best 4.3. She tied Olivia Krug for first on the vault as both gymnasts got 7.4s.

“Kiarah PR’d on floor by a lot,” Cain said. “She did a great job. That was her best floor routine by far. She was impressive. She really pulled some stuff out there.”

Wegerer won the balance beam with a personal-best 7.0. Krug added a secondplace 6.0 on beam and a third-place 5.9 on floor. Kennedy Bilz was second on the floor with a personal-best 6.5. Potocnik was third on vault (6.6) and beam (3.7).