High scores for Wanke, Krause as Raiders open with win at Rapids
MEDFORD CO-OP GYMNASTICS
Sophomore Anna Wanke had a big night, winning three events and the all-around championship, while freshman Kyla Krause debuted with a victory on the uneven bars in the Medford gymnastics team’s seasonopening win at Wisconsin Rapids Thursday.
Returning to the site of its fifth-place state finish of last March, Medford outscored the Red Raiders 128.525-124.3 to win the Great Northern Conference crossover dual. Medford had a scoring edge in three of the four events and had at least two of the top four finishers in each.
“It’s a solid win,” head coach Steve Cain said. “In comparison to other years, it’s not really way up there for our scores, but it’s not down. It’s a score that you might expect from the first meet of the season.”
A strong start to the season on the balance beam was a good sign for the Raiders. This was an event the team didn’t master until late in the 2019-20 season, but on Thursday, Medford started with a team score of 33.025. That’s a number the Raiders didn’t hit until the seventh meet last year.
Wanke won it with a 9.025, easily shattering her previous personal-best of 8.55, and Krause took second with an 8.725 in her first varsity beam routine. Junior veteran Makala Ulrich was third at 8.025. Sophomore Kate Malchow earned a 7.25 to place eighth and sophomore Kennedy Bilz was 10th at 6.2 in her first varsity beam routine.
“All together our beam routines looked sharp,” Cain said. “For a first meet and what the girls have, they set the bar kinda high. It’s going to be really interesting the rest of the season to see how much higher that they can go. Anna put on a really good show. It was fun to watch her. You talk about a little package of confidence there. Oh my gosh. She knew what she had to do, how to do it and when to do it. Kyla was the same way.”
Medford also took the top three spots on the bars, led by Krause’s 7.95. She won by a comfortable margin over Wanke’s 7.5 and Ulrich’s 7.4. Malchow placed seventh with her 6.6 and Brooklyn Bilz was ninth at 6.4. Medford outscored Rapids on bars 29.45 to 27.125.
Cain said bars was the varsity event where the Raiders left the most points out there, but he also didn’t consider it a bad start either. It’s just a matter of cleaning up some little things that will lead to big things later in the season.
“We had some highlights,” he said. “Kyla almost got an 8.0 and we placed in the top three spots on varsity, so that’s kinda cool. It shows that we’re on track for just the first meet.
The Raiders earned three of the top four scores on the vault, where they had a slim 34.05 to 33.95 scoring edge. Wanke won that with her personal-best 8.7. She just got past Rapids’ Destinee Steinhafel (8.575). Ulrich Gymnasts
was third at 8.55 and Brooklyn Bilz was fourth at 8.5. Kennedy Bilz started with a solid 8.3 that was good for ninth and Malchow was 10th at 8.225. Both of them weren’t far off their best scores from last year.
“Across the board we had a very good day on vault,” Cain said. “Everybody was where they should be. Out of all the vaulters, we have two or three that are going to be doing something far bigger than what they did at the meet there.”
The home team outscored Medford in the floor exercise 32.8 to 32.0, but Wanke and Ulrich secured the top two individual spots. Wanke’s winning score was 8.65, while Ulrich earned an 8.3. Malchow was eighth with her 7.7 and Krause was ninth at 7.35.
“On floor we fared pretty decent,” Cain said. “The girls weren’t fazed too much by anything. We know the routines work. We know the music works with the routines. That’s almost like a big test. The first meet is always a big test. Is this the right routine we want to do? Is this the right combination? Everything about it is kind of like a test to see what we should take out, what we should put in. Should we even continue with what you got?”
Wanke (33.875), Ulrich (32.275) and Malchow (29.775) were the meet’s only all-around performers.
With a deeper list of available gymnasts, Wisconsin Rapids won the JV meet 112.3-75.975. But Cain and assistant coach Marisa DuBois were thrilled with the Raiders’ results.
Freshman Ellison Carbaugh was Medford’s lone winner, taking the uneven bars with a score of 6.4, two tenths ahead of Rapids’ Lydia Zacher. Kaileigh Mientke was sixth and Kennedy Bilz was seventh. Carbaugh got an 8.25 that put her in second place on the vault, 0.15 points behind winner Morgan Benedict. Krause was third at 8.225, sophomore Kiarah Behling was seventh at 7.5 and Mientke was eighth at 7.2.
Kennedy Bilz (6.4) and Behling (5.4) were sixth and seventh on the floor. Carbaugh tied for third on the balance beam at 7.2, while Mientke (7.0) and Behling (6.4) were fifth and sixth.
“We’re coming full circle,” Cain said. “It’s a tribute to the people who brought this program up. This program started out with certain individuals who have brought it full circle around to where now most of the kids in that lineup are all club kids that have been in it since they’ve been little. The benefits of that are showing through and it’s going to be continued. That all goes back to Lisa Brooks, who was a big one. Let’s not forget Kari Wanke. Kari still really pushes those girls that are in the higher levels, coming out of grade school into high school. The combination of that has brought things full circle. I never like to lose focus of that.”
Medford begins its quest for a third straight Great Northern Conference Small Division title Tuesday when it hosts Rhinelander at Medford Area Elementary School at 5:45 p.m.
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