The WIAA State Gymnastics Championships in Wisconsin Rapids are still three months away, but River Falls made an early-season visit to the site of the state meet last weekend and showed that it's focused on getting back to state for the 17th straight year.
Two-time defending Division 2 state floor champion Sam Krueger won the all-around title and freshman Autumn Tiede made a splash in her varsity debut as the Wildcats took first at the Wisconsin Rapids Invitational with a team score of 136.9 Saturday, Dec. 2.
Krueger opened the season with an all-around score of 37.15 that included first place scores of 9.65 in the floor exercise, 9.55 on the balance beam and 9.35 in the vault. She placed second on the uneven bars with a score of 8.6, one-tenth of a point away from first place.
Wildcat coach Lauren Kaminski said she was most impressed with Krueger's first place effort on the balance beam.
"Starting her beam season off with that solid routine sets a great tone going forward," Kaminski said. "Sam had a great day."
Tiede started off her first high school season by competing on the balance beam, the floor exercise and the vault, where she finished second to Krueger with a score of 9.55.
"She had a really solid day for it being her first varsity meet," Kaminski said about the freshman. "She's been working hard in the gym and it showed."
Junior Kassidy Snell finished fourth on the balance beam with a score of 8.3 and sixth in the floor exercise with 9.05. She also scored 7.7 in the vault and 7.65 on the uneven bars to place sixth in the all-around with a score of 32.7.
Junior Natalie Swick contributed a ninth place score of 8.95 in the floor exercise while freshman Madson Berg tied for 10th on bars with a score of 7.85. Swick also introduced a new vault for the first time in competition—a tucked Tsuk—to score a 7.65.
"We're really looking forward to seeing her improve on that throughout the season," Kaminski said.
Skillwise, Kaminski said the Wildcats looked pretty solid in their first meet of the season.
"We definitely still have goals to add new skills throughout the season, but what I'd really like to see us hone in on is our consistency," she said. "The first part of the season, we'll be working to find that especially on beam. Floor is again looking to be our strongest event. We've got some good routines, but are looking to focus on strength and form there."
The Wildcats hosted their first dual meet of the season against Eau Claire North/Memorial this past Tuesday, Dec. 5, and will compete at the Chippewa Falls Invitational Saturday, Dec. 9 before returning home to host Red Wing Tuesday, Dec. 12, at 6:30 p.m. at Meyer Middle School.