Outstanding efforts on bars and floor lift Raiders to second place
The Medford Raiders earned seasonhigh scores on the uneven bars and floor exercise and equaled their best score on vault while challenging one of northern Wisconsin’s annual gymnastics powers at Saturday’s River Falls Invitational.
The Raiders scored a season-best 131.125 points and finished second behind the host Wildcats, who won the meet with 134.825 points.
Menomonie (127.95) and Hudson (125.5) placed third and fourth ahead of the River Falls Silver squad (124.075), Rice Lake (107.275) and Grantsburg (95.875).
River Falls has qualified for WIAA Division 2 state competition as a team for the past 19 seasons and was fourth in the last year’s event, one spot ahead of the Raiders (135.416-134.901).
“It was a very good meet,” Medford head coach Steve Cain said. “ We had seven personal records and one who tied a personal record. We came out of it feeling like we’re right on track. We felt good coming out of there with second place. We improved our team score.”
The performances on the uneven bars stood out for the Raiders as they posted the top team score of the day in the event with 32.825 points, just ahead of River Falls’ total of 32.125 points. The Raiders were almost a full point better than they were in their last meet Dec. 22 against Rhinelander and their score was better than the team posted in any meet last season.
Makala Ulrich, who placed second in the day’s all-around competition with 33.975 total points, led Medford’s effort on bars with a third-place score of 8.325. It was a personal-best score for the junior, beating the 8.217 she got at state last March. Kyla Krause and Kate Malchow were right behind Ulrich with 8.3s, which also go into the books as personal bests.
Anna Wanke tied Hudson’s Madeline Fish for sixth place at 7.9, just off her personal best of 8.0. Avery Purdy placed ninth with a 7.675, just off her best score of 7.8 from last year.
Madison Berg of River Falls won the event with a 9.15, while Hudson’s Caroline Erickson was second at 8.5.
“I think as the season goes on, Medford is going to be a team to watch on bars,” Cain said. “When was the last time we were able to say that? The last two years we’ve been pretty good, but its even more so this year.”
Medford’s 34.225 points on the floor was an improvement of 0.375 points from its previous meet and was the secondhighest total of the day behind River Falls (35.325). It also was a big bounceback event after the Raiders struggled on the balance beam to open the meet.
Wanke led the Raiders with a thirdplace score of 9.025, the second-best score of the sophomore’s varsity career behind the 9.133 she got at state last March. Erickson (9.45) and Menomonie’s Melody Greenwood (9.125) were the only gymnasts better Saturday.
Ulrich tied Autumn Tiede of River Falls for fifth with her personal-best 8.85. Krause upped her score to 8.3, which was good for 12th place and Malchow earned an 8.05 that put her in 14th place. Purdy was 21st with a 7.45.
“I wasn’t worried (about beam), because I knew we would make up for it on the floor,” Cain said. The Raiders earned 33.7 vault points, which beat everyone but River Falls (34.7). Krause’s 8.65 led the way and was good for fourth place. Ulrich, Wanke and Malchow all tied for ninth place with 8.35s. Raider sophomore Kennedy Bilz was part of a three-way tie for 21st with her 8.2.
Krause again hit her Yurchenko vault and improved her landing from the last meet. Wanke attempted hers for the first time in a meet and, Cain said, with improved landings she will have opportunities to score even better down the road.
Tiede won the vault with a 9.3, followed by Eva Mikla of River Falls (8.75) and Erickson (8.7).
The balance beam was the lone trouble spot for Medford. The Raiders registered a season-low 30.375 points in their first event of the day. Ulrich was sixth with a solid 8.45 that was her best score of the season. Malchow was part of a threeway tie for 11th at 7.475, Krause was 16th at 7.35, Purdy was 20th at 7.1 and Wanke was tied for 22nd at 6.9.
Greenwood was the winner with a 9.0, just ahead Madisyn Tape of River Falls (8.95).
Erickson won the all-around competition with 35.2 points. Ulrich was 0.2 points ahead of Greenwood (33.775) for the runner-up spot. Krause was fifth with a season-best 32.6 points and Wanke and Malchow tied for eighth with 32.175 points each.
The Raiders go to Lakeland today, Thursday, for a 5:45 p.m. Great Northern Conference dual against the T-Birds.