Gymnasts find their balance, take the trophy at Valders
MEDFORD GIRLS HOCKEY
The Medford Raiders repeated as champions of the Valders-Roncalli Gymnastics Invitational Saturday, scoring 131.35 points to edge Waupun by 0.6 points to bring home the team trophy for the second straight year.
It’s been a strong four-year run now for the Raiders at this meet with two second- place finishes preceding the last two titles.
One of the big keys to success was a rebound performance by the entire team on the balance beam, an event it struggled on during the past three meets.
But this time, Medford scored a season- high 33.75 points and the event’s top three finishers in Kyla Krause with a season-best 8.65, Kate Malchow with an 8.55 and Makala Ulrich with an 8.5. Avery Purdy added an eighth-place score of 8.05 and freshman Veronica Mateer was 10th with a season-best 7.7. Medford easily had the top team score on beam in the meet.
“I told the girls going into this meet that it’s a little different philosophy,” head coach Steve Cain said. “I said I want you to be selfish with what you want to accomplish and be successful with during this meet. Go all out. Just go in there and do what you have to do for you. It will turnaround and bring success for the team. I did want them to just focus on what they had to get done to fix things, especially on beam. And they did.”
The Raiders were solid again on the vault with their scorers all getting scores between 8.25 and 8.5. That put them at 33.4 team points for the event, better than every team but Waupun (33.8).
Krause solidly hit her Yurchenko vault on her second attempt to earn a score of 8.5 that tied her for second place with Waupun’s Maddy Falke. Mateer was just a tenth of a point off her seasonbest with an 8.35 that tied her for fifth with Port Washington’s Audrey Dickson. Ellison Carbaugh was seventh at 8.3, Malchow was right behind her at 8.25 and Ulrich tied for 13th at 8.1.
The Raiders didn’t score quite as high as they had been in recent meets on the bars and the floor, but they weren’t far off.
They finished the meet on bars and scored a meet-high 31.35 points, led by a personal-best 8.5 from Krause that tied her for first place with Dickson. Malchow took fourth at 7.95, freshman Shayla Radlinger tied for seventh with her 7.6, Ulrich tied for ninth at 7.3 and Purdy took 12th at 7.15.
“Kyla had a beautiful bar routine,” Cain said. “Straight lines, good connections, she kept it flowing. Maybe a smidgeon of a knee bend going into one of her giants. Other than that the only thing the judge said was she needs more of a diffi cult dismount to up her score. Makala did not score as high as she normally can. I think she was just tired. Whatever she had left she did it on bars and she didn’t have enough left to do what she normally can. She was 100% trying and 100% into it with whatever she had left. Kate was not where she normally can be but she’s still there, she’s pushing it up. She’s trying to bring it back up and working hard at it. She knows what she has to do.”
The Raiders had a couple of abnormal bobbles on the floor but still scored 32.85 points which was only beaten by Waupun (34.85).
Ulrich nailed this routine, getting an 8.925 that was her best score of the season and put her in second place behind Waupun freshman Abby Roecker (9.35). Mateer set a new personal-best at 8.275 to take sixth and cap her strong day. Malchow tied for 10th at 7.9, Krause tied for 16th at 7.75 and Radlinger was 20th at 7.625.
Krause was the day’s second-place gymnast in the all-around standings with 33.4 points, Ulrich was fourth at 32.825 points and Malchow was fifth with 32.65. Roecker was the overall champion with 34.8 points.
Team scores were: 1. Medford, 131.35; 2. Waupun, 130.75; 3. Escanaba, Mich., 117.8; 4. Port Washington, 116.575; 5. Valders-Roncalli, 114.5; 6. Markesan, 112.225; 7. Kaukauna, 77.9.
Next up is the Antigo Invitational on Saturday, a meet the Raiders have done well at in recent years. In Cain’s mind, it also starts the busy home stretch of the regular season where it’s time to start getting all the pieces put together ahead of the Feb. 25 sectional meet, which is just four weeks away.
“For the most part, they have the skills they need to take to the end,” Cain said. “They have the requirements with the exception of one here or one there. They have the routines put together with the mindset of remembering them and they’re confident. Now it’s a matter of making them show stoppers. That means the extensions of the arms, the uplift of the arms, using every muscle in your core to sometimes muscle through some things. That’s all they really need to do now. They need to hone it and shape it.”