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Wildcat senior Lauren Slowiak performs on the uneven bars at the Raider Gymnastics Invitational in Hudson Saturday. Slowiak returned to the Wildcat lineup for the first time this season after injuring her knee in the preseason and posted a score of 7.425 to help the Cats capture the team title. Bob Burrows photos

Gymnasts post season-high score

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The Wildcat gymnastics team has yet to field a full lineup this season due to injuries and illnesses, but that didn't stop it from posting a season-high score in a close Big Rivers Conference victory over Eau Claire Jan. 24 and taking first place at the Jan. 26 Raider Invitational in Hudson.

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The Cats needed every point of their season-high total to beat Eau Claire Thursday, winning the dual meet by a score of 135.725 to 135.325.

Saturday they posted a total of 131.725 to edge Tartan by less than one point to win the Raider Invitational title.

River Falls welcomed senior captain Lauren Slowiak back to the lineup Saturday for her first competition of the season but were without the services of senior Riley Claude, who missed the meet due to illness.

Slowiak, who injured her knee in preseason practice, competed on the uneven bars Saturday and posted a score of 7.425 to place 14th out of 31 competitors.

"This was very exciting for the girls to have one of their captains back in action," head coach Rachel Paulson said. "Our upperclassmen had a lot to do with the positive attitudes our girls displayed at this meet. They were giving pep talks and firing up the girls."

Without Claude in the lineup, junior Karlie Place led the Cats in the all-around with a fourth place total of 33.775. Place's top individual finish came in floor exercise, where she took second with a score of 9.1. She also finished fourth in the vault with a 9.15, and ninth on both the uneven bars (7.75) and balance beam (7.775).

Sophomore Karin Sollom had the Cats' highest individual finishes of the day, placing second on both the floor event, with a score of 9.1, and the uneven bars, with an 8.575.

Junior Taylor Rose led the way on the balance beam, finishing fourth with a score of 8.475. Sollom contributed a sixth place score of 8.276 and junior Kinsy Sylla finished seventh with an 8.225.

Sollom also placed seventh in the vault with a score of 8.85 and Rose was eighth on the uneven bars with a 7.875. Junior Reilly Myklebust boosted the Cats' team total with a ninth place score of 7.9 in the floor exercise.

Sophomore Kelly Maier's high score of the day came on floor, where she finished 12th with a 7.75, while freshman Sonja Kelly tied for 15th on vault with an 8.4.

"Saturdays meet at Hudson was one of the funnest meets for the girls so far," Paulson noted.

Two nights earlier at Eau Claire, Claude swept the top spots in all four individual events to capture the all-around title with a total score of 36.325. Claude posted scores of 9.25 in the vault, 9.25 on the uneven bars, 9.05 on the balance beam and 8.775 on the floor.

Sollom took second to Claude on the uneven bars with a score of 8.35 and Sylla added a third place score of 8.6 on the floor while Rose was third on the balance beam with an 8.55.

"It seem like everything fell into place at this meet," Paulson said. "The girls had positive energy throughout the meet which is so important during competition. We are still missing a few members of the team due to injury and illness but we continue to improve as a whole."

The Cats return to BRC dual action at home against Hudson Thursday, Jan. 31.

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Bob Burrows
Bob Burrows has been sports editor at the River Falls Journal since 1996 and at the Hudson Star-Observer since 2009. Prior to joining the Journal, Burrows served as sports editor with Ledger Publications in Balsam Lake, Wis. A native of Bayonne, N.J. and a U.S. Navy veteran, Burrows attended Marquette University before completing his studies at UW-River Falls in 1992.
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