Rhineland’s Lilli Bishop competes on the vault during a GNC Small dual meet against Mosinee at the Jim Miazga Community Gymnasium Thursday, Jan. 9. Bishop won two events and the individual all-around as the Hodags won the dual meet. (Photos by Bob Mainhardt for the River News)
Rhinelander’s Abby Belbot performs on balance beam while coach Heather Sturtevant watches during a GNC Small dual meet against Mosinee at the Jim Miazga Community Gymnasium Thursday, Jan. 9.
1/11/2020 7:34:00 AM Hodag gymnasts overcome adversity in win over Mosinee
The Rhinelander High School gymnastics team had to adapt quickly Thursday to life without one of its top athletes, and did well enough to open 2020 with a victory.
The Hodags lost junior Autumn Shafer to injury following a fall on uneven bars, but the Hodags recovered to hold off Mosinee 108.5-97.6 in a GNC Small dual Thursday at the Jim Miazga Community Gymnasium.
Shafer sustained an upper body injury as she mistimed her move from the bottom bar to the top bar in her uneven bars routine. She fell to the mat below, landing arms and face first. After laying on the mat for a couple of minutes, Shafer was able to walk away under her own power. Coach Heather Sturtevant said Shafer was expected to undergo further evaluation Friday to determine the extent of the injury.
"Losing Autumn after first rotation definitely hit our team score. We're down a bunch, like four points, from where we've been hitting. We're hoping to get good news (Friday), that she's not seriously hurt," Sturtevant said.
Most of the difference in the score came as a result of Shafer taking a zero on bars due to her fall. The Hodags bounced back in the face of adversity, sweeping the top five spots in the following event, balance beam, and taking four of the top five spots on the floor exercise.
"It was hard at first, but it wasn't like a deflation like, 'Oh my god, we're going to lose.' Obviously they were worried for their teammate, but there was kind of a readjustment like, 'OK guys, this is what we need to do,'" Sturtevant said. "They really turned around and rallied. I had to throw Abby Belbot, that was her first time doing a varsity beam routine, and she didn't have a fall."
The outcome of the meet could have been much closer. Rhinelander was already scheduled to compete with only four gymnasts on floor exercise prior to Shafer's injury. Koser, battling illness, pinch hit in Shafer's place and finished second in the event with a 7.7.
"Bridget has been super sick and she's just coming back. She was not going to do floor, but instead of taking the zero having to scratch Autumn, she said, 'I'll do it,' and threw up one of her best floor routines," Sturtevant said. "I was very impressed that she volunteered to do that when she clearly wasn't feeling 100 percent herself."
Junior Lilli Bishop won the all-around for the Hodags with a score of 29.2 points, beating Mosinee freshman Avery Ahles by 0.9 points. Bishop won the floor (7.9) and the balance beam (6.75), took second on uneven bars (6.65) and fourth on vault (7.9).
"Lilli, I know her goal is to hit the 30 mark. She didn't get there, but she's been hitting 29s every meet," Sturtevant said. "She felt really good that she went some the first all around, first floor, first bean, second on bars and tied for fourth on vault. It was a nice, strong meet for her. I truly think she's going to hit that goal, because that was with a fall on beam."
Belbot, pressed into varsity all-around duty after Shafer's injury, finished third with a 25.3, which included a third-place finish on the beam (6.6) in her first varsity performance in the event. Freshman Payton Rudawski competed in three of the four events, placing in the top three. She tied for second on the vault (8.0), was second on beam (6.7) and third on the floor exercise (7.35). Shafer tied Rudawski for second on vault prior to her injury.
Rhinelander improved to 2-0 in the GNC Small with the victory. The meet went on with only three judges as one of the judges was unable to attend due to a family situation, according to RHS activities director Brian Paulson. That led to a bit of shuffling in the order of the program in order to assure there were two judges scoring each varsity event, with the exception of vault.
"It's not optimal, but it wasn't that bad," Sturtevant noted of the judging arrangement.
Rhinelander is back in action today at the Wisconsin Rapids Invite.
Jeremy Mayo may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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