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Wildcat sophomore Amanda Guise eyes her landing spot on the 4-inch wide balance beam while performing an aerial maneuver at the River Falls Gymnastics Invitational Saturday at the high school gym. Guise, the defending WIAA Division 2 state champion on the beam, finished second in a challenging 60-competitor field with a score of 9.075. The Wildcats won the 12-team tournament with a score of 139.35. Bob Burrows photo

Gymnasts soar to invite title

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Gymnasts soar to invite title
River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

Wildcat gymnastics coach Shelly Kahut-Loomis hoped Thursday's Big Rivers Conference loss to Eau Claire North/Memorial would serve as a wake-up call for the team.

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She was right.

The Cats rebounded from their first dual loss in over three years by winning the 12-team River Falls Invitational Saturday at the high school.

"This meet was more like it," Kahut-Loomis said. "They performed much better than Thursday night. I think we are on the right track."

Seven of the eight Wildcats who competed Saturday reached the awards stand and the Cats took first in the team competition with a score of 139.35. Chisago Lakes, Minn., was a distant second with 133.15 followed by another Minnesota school, Centennial, with 131.475. Hudson was fourth with 128.475.

"I'm happy that all of our seniors placed in events and the team could win the tournament in the seniors' last year," Kahut-Loomis said. "It's always a good feeling when we see many of our gymnasts up on the podium."

Seniors Carly Jerry, Kali Kramolis and Lauren Gutting all reached the awards stand in their last home invite.

Jerry placed in three different events, taking second on the uneven bars (8.675) and floor exercise (9.15) and fourth on the balance beam (8.9). Kramolis finished eighth on bars with a score of 8.225 while Gutting was eighth on floor with a score of 8.625.

Sophomore Sierra Becker had the only first place individual finish for the Cats, winning the vault competition with a score of 9.275. She also placed fourth on the uneven bars with an 8.525.

Sophomore Ruth Anderson-Benge gave the Cats four of the top eight finishers on bars with a third place score of 8.65.

Sophomore Amanda Guise boosted the Cats' team total by placing second on the balance beam with a 9.075. Only Centennial's Nicole Thul, with a 9.4, scored better.

Freshman Paige Skorseth rounded out the Wildcat scoring with a pair of third place showings. She scored 8.925 on the balance beam and 9.075 in the floor exercise.

Jerry ended up third in the all-around competition with a total score of 34.925 while Skorseth was fourth with 34.375.

Kahut-Loomis said many people came together to make the invite a success, including parents, JV gymnasts, student workers, youth gymnasts and school personnel.

"Their help in hosting this event is what made it a successful tournament," she said. "It was a memorable experience for all the gymnasts and teams."

Three days earlier, in their first action since the holiday break, the Cats lost to Eau Claire North/Memorial 140.15 to 137.875. It was the first BRC dual loss for the Wildcats since a 135.1 to 134.975 setback to Hudson in December 2006.

"We had falls on beam and floor and you can't fall and win against a good team," Kahut-Loomis said.

Kahut-Loomis said many of the gymnasts incorporated new tricks into their routines but struggled to pull them off.

"We need to improve our consistency," she said. "We have the difficulty. We just need to clean them up to reach full potential."

Becker posted the only first place finish of the night for the Wildcats with a score of 8.575 on the balance beam. Kramolis was the Cats' highest all-around performer with a third place score of 34.775.

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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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