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Gymnasts jump to good start

Former state champion and new Wildcat gymnastics coach Rachel Paulson has her old team off to a flying start after the first two tournaments of the season.

The Cats took third at the season-opening Wisconsin Rapids Invitational Dec. 1 before taking first place at last Saturday's Chippewa Falls Invite.

The Cats have ten days off before beginning defense of their Big Rivers Conference title Tuesday, Dec. 18, with a dual meet at Menomonie.

The Cats opened the season with two freshman -- Brianna Kubic and Sonja Kelly -- making their varsity debuts but veteran senior Riley Claude hobbled by an injury Dec. 1 in Wisconsin Rapids.

Claude was limited to competing only on the uneven bars but still managed a first-place score of 9.15. Junior Karlie Place added a first place finish in the vault with a score of 8.85 while placing fifth in the all-around with a total score of 32.35. Sophomore Karin Sollom added a fourth place score of 8.55 in the vault to help the Cats post a team score of 128.425.

"I felt this was a great start for our team," Paulson said. "We were also able to have some gymnasts compete exhibition on all four events to get some experience."

This past Saturday the Cats raised their team score of 132.9 to capture first at the Chippewa Falls Invitational. Claude won the uneven bars for the second week in a row with a score of 9.15 and also competed on the balance beam, where she took second with a 9.075.

Place scored 8.8 to lead the Cats in the vault while Lauren Slowiak had the top team score in the floor exercise with a 7.875.

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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