Young Marshall gymnastics team makes strides at home invite

MARSHALL – Competing for the first time in nearly three weeks, the Marshall gymnastics team showed few signs of rust as the Tigers played host to seven other schools on Saturday afternoon for their home invite.

The Tigers set a new high for their team score on the season with 103.675 points, but finished eighth out of eight teams in their first competition since Dec. 15.

“Even though we were eighth out of eight teams, we did set a new high for the season,” Marshall head coach Lindsay Wolff said. “So that’s a plus that we are seeing the improvement in our score. We had to move a couple of girls around, but they stepped up and I was happy with their performance.”

Willmar won the invitational with a composite score of 138.15, edging out second-place finisher New Ulm by a little over two points. The Eagles scored 135.975 points, whereas Windom/Mountain Lake Area took third place with 130.675 points.

Meg Ellis led the Tigers with an all-around score of 27.30 points, while posting either Marshall’s best or second-best score on three of the four events. Her 6.35 on the balance beam and 8.625 on the vault were both tops for the Tigers, while Ellis’ 5.25 on the uneven bars was second to Natalie Rademacher’s 6.7 points.

Nicole Deragisch and Shannyn Chelsey scored 7.45 and 7.175 points, respectively, on the floor exercise to lead the Tigers, while Ellis scored 7.075 points in the event.

After being struck by a rash of injuries and illnesses just before the holiday break, the Tigers were nearly at full strength on Saturday. Missing just one regular varsity competitor, the Tigers were able to test out their routines which had been fine tuned over the past three weeks.

“It was good to get back in the competition,” Wolff said. “The rest of the season is going to go by fast as we have a lot of meets coming up. But we’ve added some new things into our routines, so it was a little shaky competing it for the first time. It will become more comfortable as the meets go along, so I expect to see an even bigger jump in the score in our next couple of meets.”

On balance beam for the first time this season, Shaunna Vandendriessche posted Marshall’s second best score with a 5.95. Deragisch’s 8.5 points were second best on the vault.

The Tigers have little time to dote on their season-best score from the weekend as they are back in competition tonight in Jackson. After a conference dual with Jackson County Central, the Tigers have a home meet with Mankato West on Thursday.

“It’s always hard to have our tournament and then a meet right again on Monday without any practice and one day of rest in between,” Wolff said. “But I think the girls will go out there and do what they know how to do and are excited to see the increase in their scores.”

Worthington took fourth in Marshall on Saturday with 129.4 points, while Benson/Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg was fifth with 125.15. Southwest Conference schools Pipestone Area and Redwood Valley rounded out the field and finished with 118.625 and 114.85 points respectively.