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Gymnasts keep soaring

Wildcat senior Sam Krueger performs on the balance beam at the Chippewa Falls Snowflake Invitational Saturday, Dec. 9. Krueger set a new school record of 9.65 in the event and won the all-around title to help the Cats to a first place team finish. Photo courtesy of Lauren Kaminski

The Wildcat gymnastics team won its first Big Rivers Conference dual meet of the season last week while adding another invitational title to its early season resume over the weekend.

The Wildcats defeated Eau Claire North/Memorial 138.975 to 132.150 Tuesday, Dec. 5, before winning the 10-team Chippewa Falls Snowflake Invitational behind a record-setting performance by senior Sam Krueger Saturday, Dec. 9.

Krueger broke the school record of 9.625 she shared with Allie Henry (2007) on the balance beam with a 9.65 on her way to winning all four individual events and the all-around title with a total of 37.35.

"Sam has always had an incredibly strong beam routine, skill-wise, but this year she's made a shift already with her consistency," head coach Lauren Kaminski noted. "Sam is our lone senior and is also stepping into the role of captain—a role I'm excited to see her make her own and grow into throughout the season."

In addition to her individual title on the balance beam, Krueger won the floor exercise with a 9.625, the uneven bars with 8.825, and the vault with a 9.25.

River Falls won the team title with a score of 138.875 while host Chippewa Falls was a distant second with 132.425.

"For Saturday we set a team goal to hit 140," Kaminski said. "Unfortunately we missed that mark, but we did still have a great meet. We started out strong on floor and managed to maintain good energy throughout the day."

Natalie Swick and Autumn Tiede joined Krueger on the podium for the floor exercise with third and fourth place scores of 9.1 and 9.025, respectively, while Tiede also took second in the vault with 8.9 and fifth on the balance beam with 8.875. Madison Berg was second on the uneven bars with 8.4, while Isabel Seyffer placed fifth on beam with 8.825.

"Isabel Seyffer fell and injured her knee on floor, but still competed her beam routine," Kaminski noted. "She started off the varsity competition with a beautiful, solid routine and an impressive score of 8.825."

Krueger tied the school record on the balance beam in Tuesday's conference dual with Eau Claire North/Memorial with a first place score of 9.625. She also won the vault with 9.475, and the floor with 9.65 while finishing second on the bars with 8.625.

Tiede was second in the vault with 8.95 and Michaela Kramilis was third with 8.75, while in the floor exercise, Tiede took second with 9.15, Kassidy Snell was third with 9.0, and Swick placed fourth with 8.925.

Kaminski pointed out the Wildcats have seven new freshman on the team this season.

"Unfortunately several of them are out due to, or are just coming back from, an injury," she said. "We've already made good use of our team's depth this season and I'm really hoping that we can get everyone healthy by the end of the season again."

Assistant coach Bridgette Lensing concurred.

"With seven new team members, the girls are doing a great job working together, being a team, stepping up into new roles and positions," she said. "They have quickly built a good group dynamic."

The Wildcats will host Menomonie in a BRC dual Tuesday, Dec. 19, at 6:30 p.m. at Meyer Middle School.

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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