The Lakeland gymnastics team finished out the regular season with a strong showing at the Great Northern Conference meet held in Antigo last weekend.
Haley Farrell picked up a pair of honorable mention all-conference selections and the girls took third out of the five teams in the GNC small school division.
Lakeland amassed a season-best 109.825 points, landing the girls solidly in third place behind Mosinee (118.325) and Chequamegon (114.325), and ahead of Rhinelander (107.35) and Medford (104.95).
Head coach Carolyn Juske said the team’s growth continues to show, and the progress made from a week ago at the Ashland Invite is noticeable.
Juske said improvements could be seen across the board, helping the Thunderbirds set another new season-best score.
“Several girls connected on new skills in their bar routines including Gabi Miller and Kayela Carroll,” Juske said. “Angie [Geiger] and Haley both attempted and landed new dismounts as well on bars. On vault, we got to see both Haley and Kayela try and land new vaults, giving them a higher start value and ultimately a higher score.”
While the improvement from just last weekend is noticeable, Juske said the team has grown by leaps and bounds since the team began the season at the Snowflake Invite in Rhinelander and opened the year scoring at 101.470.
“Looking back to the first invite at Rhinelander, they have grown tremendously!” Juske said. “Their confidence is up, their routines are cleaner and sharper, and I think they have pushed themselves farther than they thought they would.”
Lakeland’s top performer on the night was, once again, Farrell, who earned three top-five finishes on the day and picked up honorable mention all-GNC honors for third place finishes on the vault and the floor.
Adding a fourth place finish on the bars and a twenty-third place finish on beam, Farrell took sixth in the all-around competition with a score of 28.425.
“Haley had an excellent meet!” Juske said. “She still has not put all four events together, but when she does, which is hopefully at sectionals, it will be something to watch. She had quite a crowd of gymnasts watching her floor routine.”
In addition to Farrell’s strong finishes, Lakeland picked up a top-five finish from Carroll on the vault (fourth place) and a top-10 finish from Geiger on bars (seventh).
Miller took eleventh in the all-around competition (26.65) and Ahonen took fourteenth (25.95).
Lakeland looks to follow up the strong performance at the conference meet when the girls headed back to Antigo tonight for the sectional meet.
“I think the girls are just going to go after every skill and tenth on Thursday,” Juske said. “They won’t hold back.”
Juske said competing in back-to-back meets in the same venue would help with the girls’ comfort level, and said the conference meet allowed the team to get a great feel for the gym.
“I definitely think that being back at the same gym is going to help,”she said. “Brittany Ahonen has already decided to change her first tumbling pass because she knows how to use the floor there.”
Lakeland opens the sectional meet on the bars, then moves on to beam and floor, and finshes with the vault.
“We start on bars which should give them more confidence going into beam as well as a good start to the meet,” Juske said.
As Juske said, unless someone qualifies for the state meet, the sectional meet is the girls’ final chance this season to hit that skill they have been working on.
“If there is something they want to do, Thursday is the last day to try it until next season,” she said.
See Tuesday’s Lakeland Times and www.lakelandtimes.com for a full recap of the sectional meet.
Jim Oxley may be reached via email at email@example.com.