The Rhinelander High School gymnastics bounced back Thursday after losing one of their top gymnasts early in the meet to defeat Mosinee 108.5-97.6 in a Great Northern Conference Small dual at the Jim Miazga Community Gymnasium.
The Hodags lost junior Autumn Shafer after a fall on the uneven bars after the first rotation which affected the team score, as she took a zero due to the fall. But RHS came back and had several gymnasts step up and earned the top five spots on the balance beam and four of the five top positions on the floor exercise to win over the Indians.
Junior Lilli Bishop won the all-around with a score of 29.2 points and edged Mosinee freshman Avery Ahles by 0.9 points for the title. Bishop won the floor with a 7.9 and also won the balance beam at 6.75. She was runner-up on the uneven bars at 6.65 and tied fourth on the vault at 7.9.
Rhinelander's Abby Belbot finished third in the overall at 25.3 and marked her first time doing a varsity beam routine and she completed it without a fall with a score of 6.6. Freshman Payton Rudawski placed in the top three in all three of her events; she tied for second on the vault at 8.0 with teammate Shafer, finished second on the beam at 6.7, and placed third on the floor at 7.35.
In their second rotation, RHS competed on the uneven bars where Shafer sustained an injury on her routine. As she was transitioning from the bottom bar to the top bar, Shafer lost her footing and landed on arms and face. After several minutes with Coach Heather Sturtevant and trainer Eric Prom, Shafer was able to get up but did not compete the rest of the meet. The extent of her injury is unknown at this point.
Rhinelander was already slim in the number of gymnast competing on the floor exercise, which include Shafer for four varsity routines. Bridget Koser stepped up for the Hodags, despite just coming back from battling illness and not at 100% and surpassed expectations with one of her best floor routines and finished second with a score of 7.7.
The Hodags advanced to 2-0 in the GNC Small division and will be back in action on Saturday when they travel to Wisconsin Rapids for an invite beginning at 11:00AM.
The Rhinelander High School gymnastics team will have some voids to fill for the 2019-2020 season and will only feature 11 gymnasts on their roster this season. But the Hodags still bring back plenty of talent and are looking battle for the title in the Great Northern Conference Small Division.
Rhinelander returns a number of key gymnasts from last years squad including senior Amber Briggs, junior Bridget Koser, junior Lilli Bishop, and junior Autumn Shafer. Bishop had a pair of top-10 finishes in the GNC last year; she was fifth on floor and seventh on uneven bars. While Shafer also had a pair of top-10 finishes at the conference meet, placing seventh on vault and floor. Koser earned eighth on bars in the GNC and also recorded a ninth place finish on floor at sectionals. Briggs is one of two seniors on the roster and competed on vault and beam for the Hodags last season.
The Hodags will also look to a number of underclassmen to fill some of their varsity positions including sophomore Abby Belbot, sophomore Karissa Lavender, and freshman Payton Rudawski. Belbot competed in all-around at the sub-varsity level and will likely be in a few events. Lavender has been strong on the beam and Rudawski's strong suit has been floor and also has been working on beam this season.
Even with a lack of depth to their lineup this season, Rhinelander's strongest event will likely be floor exercise where they have three starting gymnasts returning. RHS only brings back one start for balance beam but has a number of athletes that are looking to step up and fill in the varsity spots. The biggest challenge for the Hodags overall this season will be uneven bars.
Rhinelander's biggest void they will have to fill is losing a pair of starters to graduation; Raven Sturtevant and Harlie Zimmermann. Sturtevant qualified for the WIAA Division 2 state meet on uneven bars her junior year and was the Hodags only all-conference gymnast last season. Zimmermann started on beam and uneven bars.
Looking ahead, Medford will be Rhinelander's top competition in the GNC small division. The Hodags start this season today when they compete at Medford in a five-team invite. All GNC small teams except Lakeland will be attending, which will be a good starting point to see where they match up. RHS will then compete back to back when the head to Chequamegon Moday to kick off their GNC Small season. The Hodags will host the Snowflake Invite on December, 14th.
The RHS gymnastics team will also hold a three-day camp starting on December 26th held at the Jim Miazga Community Gymnasium. Participants will learn beginning as well as intermediate skills on beam, floor, uneven bars, and vault. The time will be 1:30 to 3:30pm each day and will cost $50 for all three-days. For additional information or to receive a registration form please contact Coach Heather Sturtevant at 715-550-7952.
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