The Baraboo gymnastics team landed in fourth place at its nine-team home invitational at Baraboo High School on Saturday, but coach Tammy Porter was more excited by how the Thunderbirds competed against themselves than against the rest of the field.

Despite a rough outing on the uneven bars and some struggles on balance beam, Baraboo finished with 126.2 points, just over a half-point shy of what the T-Birds scored in taking third place at the WIAA Division 2 sectional they hosted last season.

Baraboo posted scores of 31.225 on the balance beam, 33.925 on the floor exercise, 32.85 on the vault and 28.2 on the uneven bars. West Salem co-op took the title (135.775), followed by Waunakee/DeForest (131.8), and Dodgeville/Mineral Point (131.2).

“First of all, I could not be more proud of the girls’ performance on Saturday,” Porter said. “The scores definitely reflected their talent, and how great their season is going to be. Yes, we did have a few beam falls, and bars did not go well at all, but overall they did fantastic. Their team score Saturday was right in the range of where they ended last year. So, things can only get better from here.”

Sophomore Bella Vedro anchored the team with a near perfect performance on balance beam, the T-Birds’ first event, as she avoided any falls and stuck her landing on a front flip dismount to score an 8.25. It was the first time in her career Vedro surpassed the 8-point barrier.

Sophomore Meghan Reuter added a 7.9 and Mia Burkhalter posted a 7.625. Freshman Maddie Beal kept things simple in her routine en route to a 7.45.

“Maddie Beal has been a great addition to our already strong varsity squad,” Porter said. “She started our great day off with a flawless beam set.”

As usual, floor exercise was Baraboo’s most successful event. Four of the five T-Birds scored in the eights on a day when six other gymnasts scored 9.0 or above on the event. Sophomore Brittany Reuter led Baraboo with a 13th-place finish, carding an 8.725 after a solid performance which featured a couple of full twisting layouts.

Vedro and Meghan Reuter each scored 8.5. Burkhalter followed with an 8.025 and Beal scored a 7.75.

“The girls carried their momentum into floor, where scores and the excitement level only grew,” Porter said. “Mia started us out super strong; she was able to hit an eight right at the start. This will really help boost Mia’s confidence in her floor ability. We made small changes in the days leading up to Saturday, and they made a big difference. She will be one to keep an eye, because prior to her injury, she was completing tumbling passes of the same caliber as her teammates.”

Vedro took fourth on vault with an 8.5. Meghan Reuter recorded an 8.35, followed by Jamie Runnels (8.1), Brittany Reuter (7.9) and Burkhalter (7.65). Despite some solid scores, Porter was looking for more.

“We did not see the scores we were hoping for on vault,” she said. “Bella was able to hit a solid 8.5 and Meghan an 8.35, which is great. We have much more difficult vaults they will be debuting after the first of the year, but for the sake of safety, we did not push to have them done for this invite.”

Baraboo finished its rotation on uneven bars, where Brittany Reuter led with a 7.7, followed by Vedro (6.95), Meghan Reuter (6.9), Burkhalter (6.65), and Runnels (6.35).

“Being that we are already behind the other teams in this event makes definitely did not help us out,” Porter said of the bars. “Once we are done hosting Reedsburg on Tuesday, we will be spending a lot of time on this event. These girls are too talented to (score) low six to high seven. Not to mention, with the new sectional we will be competing in, these scores will never get it done.”

BARABOO INVITATIONAL

Team scores: West Salem co-op 135.775, Waunakee/DeForest 131.8, Dodgeville/Mineral Point 131.2, Baraboo 126.2, Sauk Prairie 115.95, River Valley 115.25, Markesan 107.05, Reedsburg 106.775, Tomah 100.775.

Top three individuals: Balance beam — Caroline Iausley, RV, 8.55; Tailyn Keller, WD, 8.525; Caylee Powers, WD, 8.525. Floor exercise — Iausley, RV, 9.35; Sydney Hames, WS, 9.325; Miah Lemanski, DMP, 9.125. Uneven bars — Ellie Tschumper, WS, 9.45; Caylee Powers, WD, 8.8; Tessa Bockhop, DMP, 8.6. Vault — Miah Lemanski, DMP, 9.1; Iausley, RV, 9.95; Powers, WD, 8.55. All-around — Iausley, RV, 34.95; Lemanski, DMP, 34.775; Hammes, WS, 34.3.

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Regional Sports Reporter