Hendricks/RTR gymnastics team takes first place in Marshall triangular

MARSHALL – Area gymnastics teams got some final prep work in for the upcoming Section 3A tournament on Thursday in a triangular hosted by the Marshall Tigers, and at least two teams left the gym happy with what they were able to accomplish in the meet.

In their first season as a varsity gymnastics team, the Hendricks/Russell-Tyler-Ruthton Grizzlies won their final regular season competition by putting up a team score of 131.425 points. It wasn’t quite the high score of the season for the Grizzlies, who hold practices inside a transformed and fully-equipped machine shed, but it was enough to edge Redwood Valley, which finished second with 126.975 points.

The hometown Tigers took last place, but they certainly weren’t hanging their heads after posting a season-high score of 113.575.

All in all, it was a good day in the gym.

“We were shooting for our highest score and didn’t quite get there, but I think we had a nice, consistent, pretty solid meet,” said Grizzlies head coach Sheri Johnson. “Of course, it’s always fun when you win, but in gymnastics that’s not always what it’s about. Like to me, Marshall, that was their high score of the year and that’s phenomenal, hitting those goals. That’s what gymnastics is all about is working hard and teaching the kids those important lessons.”

Like Marshall, the Grizzlies don’t have any varsity team members above ninth grade. The young competitors from Hendricks/RTR showed that youth doesn’t hold them back. Greta Johnson, a seventh-grader, was second in the all-around with a score of 34.150, while freshman Hailey Teske was third with a 33.875.

Johnson said the team has had a pretty full schedule, with 10 events this season, but has competed mostly in South Dakota since it’s so close to the border. She said she was glad Marshall allowed her team to come compete on Thursday so the Grizzlies could get a better feel of what to expect when they take part in the Section 3A tournament Feb. 16 in Jackson. She said the squad is hoping for a top-five finish in the section.

The Tigers were facing some adversity Thursday and fought through it with flying colors. Ella Kovash missed the meet with an illness, and Marshall sustained an injury early on in the triangular. That didn’t prevent the Tigers from scoring their highest mark of the season.

“We had to move some girls around and the lineup changed couple times before we started today, but the girls stepped it up and I’m really proud of how we ended,” Marshall head coach Lindsay Wolff said.

Meg Ellis led the charge for the Tigers by scoring a 30.100 in the all-around, and Natalie Rademacher scored a 28.325.

Wolff said the Tigers set team-highs on the uneven bars as well as the balance beam, despite having six falls.

“They’re definitely starting to feel more comfortable out there and they definitely want it, so we’re hoping we can come out at sections and get up close to this (score) or break it again. That would be awesome,” Wolff said.