RIVER FALLS, Wis.-- Illness and injuries can put a lot of pressure on a team. But so can trying to keep an 18-year streak of state tournament appearances alive.

River Falls was dealing with all that at Saturday’s WIAA Division 2 gymnastics sectional on their home floor, and they passed with flying colors.

The Wildcats placed second in the team competition with a score of 135.475 to qualify for the state team tournament for the 19th straight year while three Cats qualified for the individual competition at state.

River Falls coach Bridgette Lensing said the illnesses and injuries caused a lot of lineup changes and pressure on the younger girls to step up. And the 18-year state streak put added pressure on both the team and the coaching staff.

“It’s all a lot of us were thinking about this last week during practice,” she said. “Our season though has gone exactly how we have wanted it to. During the tournament season meets we are performing at our top level, and we have worked all year for our routines to come together at this point.”

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Junior Autumn Tiede took the sectional all-around title with a total score of 35.85 after finishing first on the vault (9.3) and floor (9.6), third on the uneven bars (8.55) and tying for fifth on the balance beam (8.4). She’ll compete in all four events and the all-around at this Saturday’s individual state tournament in Wisconsin Rapids.

Tiede will be joined at individual state by junior Madisyn Tape and sophomore Lexi Epstein, who both qualified on the balance beam. Tape placed third with a score of 8.675 and Epstein was fourth with 8.45. The top five individuals in each event advanced.

The Wildcats had their best score of the day in the floor exercise with a team total of 35.425. They scored 34.075 in the vault, 32.65 on the bars and 33.325 on their final event the balance beam to give them a total of 135.475 while they waited for both GMC (Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau/Melrose-Mindoro/Cochrane-Fountain City) and West Salem to complete their final rotations.

“We knew our team score and all we could do was watch GMC and West Salem and hope that we had done enough to get us to state,” Lensing said. “The girls had done their job exactly how they were supposed to. We went 5 for 5 on beam sticks, and now all we could do was wait.”

In the end, GMC totalled 136.95 to take the sectional title while the Wildcats’ score was 0.95 better then West Salem, giving the Cats the second and final team qualifying spot.

It’s the 30th state tournament appearance overall for River Falls, who have won six state titles with the last coming in 2013. The Wildcats placed fifth at the state team tournament last year.

The WIAA Team Gymnastics Tournament will be held Friday, March 6, beginning at 1 p.m. at Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln High School while the WIAA Individual Tournament will be Saturday, March 7, at 10:30 a.m.

Hudson competes at D1 sectional

Hudson’s four gymnasts wrapped up their season at the Division 1 sectional at Eau Claire Memorial Saturday.

Emily Warren turned in the Raiders’ highest individual finish of the day by placing 10th on the uneven bars with a score of 8.1 while Maddi Fish was 11th with 8.025.

Fish placed 13th in the floor exercise with an 8.65 and Warren was 17th with 8.625 while Amber Robey finished 16th on the balance beam with 7.975. Grace Dickenson’s best finish was a 25th place score of 7.525 on the balance beam.

Holmen won the Division 1 sectional team title with a score of 139.925 and Marshfield was second with 138.5 while Hudson placed ninth with 103.55.