RIVER FALLS, Wis. -- This season has been a case of better late than never for the River Falls and Hudson gymnastics teams, but they both looked in midseason form at the River Falls Invitational Saturday, Jan. 9.

It was just the second competition of the season for both teams after a nearly six-week delayed start due to COVID restrictions, but they’re both just happy to be out there again.

“We're just so grateful that we can practice and compete this year,” Hudson coach Erin Holly said. “It certainly doesn't look or feel the same as in years past, but we'll take what we can get.”

Hudson’s Caroline Erickson made the best of the situation Saturday by winning the all-around competition with a total score of 35.2. Erickson took first in the floor exercise with a score of 9.45, second on the uneven bars with 8.5, third in the vault with an 8.7 and fourth on the balance beam with 8.55 to beat Medford’s Makala Ulrich for the all-around title by 1.225 points.

“Caroline placed in the top four on each event and won floor and all-around easily,” Holly noted. “I fully expect her to finish her high school career at the top of her game.”

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River Falls’ senior Eva Mikla flips over the vault for a second place score of 8.75 at the River Falls Gymnastics Invitational Saturday, Jan. 9. Mikla helped the Wildcats capture the team title with a score of 134.825. Bob Burrows / RiverTown Multimedia
River Falls’ senior Eva Mikla flips over the vault for a second place score of 8.75 at the River Falls Gymnastics Invitational Saturday, Jan. 9. Mikla helped the Wildcats capture the team title with a score of 134.825. Bob Burrows / RiverTown Multimedia

But it was River Falls Gold- led by its four senior captains-- who took the team title. The Wildcat Gold team finished with a score of 134.825 at the seven-team event while Medford was second with 131.125. Menomonie was third with 127.95 and Hudson took fourth with 125.5 while River Falls Silver, basically the Wildcat JV, was fifth with 124.075. Rice Lake (107.275) and Grantsburg (95.875) rounded out the field.

River Falls co-head coach Bridgette Lensing said she was extremely proud of the team’s four senior captains-- Madison Berg, Eva Mikla, Madisyn Tape and Autumn Tiede-- for their motivation and leadership in a challenging final season.

“For it being such an off year and it being their senior year, they have such a positive outlook and attitude that is great to have in the gym and for the other girls to see and feed off of,” Lensing said. “We are coming out fairly strong as a team with the late start to the season and adapting to each day as best as we can. Just like any sport, we are grateful for each day in the gym and continue to emphasize all the positives that we can in this situation.”

Tiede and Mikla swept the top two spots in the vault competition with Tiede winning with a score of 9.3 and Mikla second with 8.75. Freshman Evie Carlson of the Wildcat Silver team also placed with a sixth place score of 8.55.

Berg topped the field on the uneven bars with a winning score of 9.15 while Tape took second on the balance beam with a score of 8.95. Mikla led the Cats in the floor exercise by placing fourth with an 8.95 while Tiede was fifth on the balance beam with 8.55 and sixth on floor with 8.85.

Tiede had the Wildcats top all-around total with 33.65, good for fourth place, while Carlson finished sixth with 32.45.

Both the Wildcats and Raiders will be back in action at Big Rivers Conference triangulars Tuesday, Jan. 12, at Rice Lake and Saturday, Jan. 16, at Chippewa Falls.