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Gymnasts keep state streak alive

Members of the Wildcat gymnastics team take their spot atop the podium with the championship plaque after winning the sectional title at Holmen Saturday. The team includes, from left, Amanda Guise, Ruthie Anderson-Benge, Kayla Rohl, Lauren Gutting, Carly Jerry, Kali Kramolis, Sierra Becker, Britta Grebner, Rose Tashjian and Paige Skorseth. Submitted photo

The Wildcat gymnastics team dominated the sectional tournament in Holmen Saturday, finishing over seven points ahead of its nearest competitor to win the team title and claiming 14 of the 25 possible qualifying spots for the individual state tournament.

Five Wildcats -- Carly Jerry, Kali Kramolis, Paige Skorseth, Ruthie Anderson-Benge and Sierra Becker -- will compete in Friday night's WIAA Individual State Gymnastics Championships and will be joined by teammates Lauren Gutting, Britta Grebner, Kayla Rohl and Amanda Guise for the team competition Saturday.

Both events will take place at Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln High School.

This is the ninth straight year the Wildcats have qualified for the state team competition. They've won four state titles in that time, the last in 2007. They were state runners-up a year ago.

"The team should all be very proud of their performances and how they competed," head coach Shelly Kahut-Loomis said. I like to see them all focused, enthusiastic and encouraging each other as they did on Saturday for sectionals."

The Cats swept the top spot in every event on their way to posting a team score of 141.65. Onalaska finished second with 134.375 and will also compete at state as a team.

Skorseth and Jerry finished first and second in the all-around with scores of 35.825 and 35.675, respectively, Saturday. Kramolis earned sectional titles on the balance beam, with a score of 9.25, and the uneven bars with a score of 9.175. Jerry won the sectional championship on floor with 9.6, while Becker took home the individual title in the vault with a 9.175.

Skorseth, a freshman who earned all-state honors in cross country last fall, also qualified for the state meet with a second place finish on the balance beam, third place scores on the floor and uneven bars, and a fourth place finish in the vault. The top five finishers in each event earned spots at state.

"Paige is a determined young competitor who has been improving with each meet," Kahut-Loomis said. "Paige is a freshman, but you would never guess that from the poise and confidence she has in competitions."

Jerry, a senior veteran of both state diving and gymnastics tournaments, also finished second on the uneven bars and fourth in the vault to qualify for state in those events as well as the all-around and floor. She finished fifth at state on the floor as a junior.

Kahut-Loomis said Jerry is a strong all-around performer who doesn't get distracted in large meets.

"Her tumbling was dynamic, unique and very much appeals to the fans," the coach said.

Kramolis overcame an elbow injury to win sectional titles on both the beam and the bars. Kahut-Loomis said the injury kept the senior out of the all-around competition but she made her two performances count Saturday.

"Kali's performances were very clean and basically flawless," Kahut-Loomis said. "I was very happy for Kali's success, as it is hard for a senior to be injured and unable to perform some of her favorite events in her last competition."

Kramolis earned a third place medal in the vault at the 2009 state meet.

Becker won her first sectional title on the vault to earn a trip to state as an individual. The sophomore competed at the state team tournament a year ago.

"Sierra had had a huge vault all season and we were so thrilled she was able to perform it so well Saturday," Kahut-Loomis said.

Anderson-Benge stepped up to qualify for state in two events by taking fourth on both the floor and bars. The sophomore won the Big Rivers Conference championship on bars a week earlier and now will compete at the state meet for the first time.

"Ruthie has really had some good performances in big meets here at the end of the season," Kahut-Loomis said.

Kahut-Loomis said Gutting, a senior captain, will compete in Saturday's state team portion of the state tournament on the beam and floor, while Grebner and Rohl will compete in the vault. Guise, the defending state champion on the balance beam who has been plagued by ankle injuries this season and missed qualifying as an individual, will compete with the team on the beam Saturday. Tashjian will serve as the Wildcats' alternate.

"As a team, we will continue to work on believing they can do the needed routines on the day of competition," Kahut-Loomis said. "The girls really have what it takes to pull a great meet together. I know with the determination and confidence of this team, the end results will be promising."

Friday's individual competition gets underway at 5:40 while the state team tournament is scheduled for Saturday at noon.

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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