Rhinelander’s Lilli Bishop performs on balance beam during the Medford Hot Cocoa Invitational gymnastics meet in Medford Saturday, Dec. 7. Bishop placed fourth on beam and seventh in the individual all-around as the Hodags took second in the four-team meet. (Matt Frey/Star News)
12/10/2019 7:33:00 AM Hodag gymnasts take 2nd in season opener
The first meet of the season for the Rhinelander High School gymnastics team affirmed preseason thoughts about the Great Northern Conference Small division. The Hodags have a solid squad but they are looking up at a Medford team that is on a whole other level.
The Raiders dominated, sweeping the top three in three events plus the all-around, as they won their home Hot Cocoa Invite on Saturday - which essentially was a GNC Small invite with all the teams in the division except Lakeland in attendance.
Medford won the meet with 129.2 points. Rhinelander was second at 111.85.
"I thought it went really well," Hodag coach Heather Sturtevant said. "All the girls, yes we had some hiccups. Not everybody had perfect routines, but it is the first meet. Yet we had a lot of very good surprises, personal bests and from the start, that was just amazing."
Rhinelander had a few podium finishes, but Medford was on another level. Medford had four gymnasts score 31 or better in the all-around as they swept the top four places.
"Medford, they have returning girls. They have a freshman that's just wow," Sturtevant said."
The Hodags were led by a trio of juniors Saturday - Lilli Bishop, Autumn Shafer and Bridget Koser.
Bishop placed in the top five on both floor exercise (5th, 7.975) and balance beam (4th, 7.5) as she took seventh in the all-around at 29.025. Shafer added a fourth-place finish on vault (8.15) as she finished right behind Bishop in eighth in the all-around (28.95). Koser added a sixth-place finish on beam (7.35) and a ninth-place finish on floor (7.325).
"Autumn Shafer podiumed (on vault), placed fourth and already got over an 8, which is something that we were not really hitting until the end of the season last year. That's a wonderful place to start for her," Sturtevant said. "Lilli Bishop was just out of the 8s on floor. She placed fifth, great routine. She hit all her bonuses. Now we just want to tighten up a few things as far as the routine itself.
"On beam, Lilli and Bridget had personal bests. Lilli had our only true no-fall routine and it placed her fourth. Bridget really only had a little bobble. She didn't fall off the beam but, in her dismount, the landing mat moved a little bit, so she touched a hand. Still, super proud of her."
Bishop added an eighth-place finish on vault while Shafer was seventh on floor and eighth on uneven bars. Freshman Payton Rudawski added Rhinelander's only other top-10 finish, a seventh-place showing on vault (7.95).
"Payton, as our freshman, really threw up some solid scores," Sturtevant said. "She got second on JV for beam with a 6.8. She got a 7.95 on vault for varsity. That was like, 'Wow.' There's a lot of potential growth for her for sure."
Chequamegon (105.05) finished third and Mosinee (93.8) was fourth. Sturtevant said the meet provided her with a lot of valuable information.
"We've got a lot of room for improvement. We got a lot of feedback from the judges on, individually for the girls, how to change programs to maximize bonuses and starting values," she said. "We're going to really be working on that next week."
Sturtevant said she hoped to make some tweaks to routines, based on Saturday's feedback, as the Hodags prepare to host the Snowflake Invite this Saturday at the Jim Miazga Community Gymnasium.
Rhinelander was scheduled to open the GNC Small slate at Chequamegon Monday, but that dual was postponed due to weather.
Jeremy Mayo may be reached at email@example.com.
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