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Esky gymnastics shows out in first home meet of the season

ESCANABA — The Escanaba gymnasts have enjoyed many record-breaking performaces in recent years.

They added two school-best performances to their list here Saturday while winning the Esky Elks Invitational.

Senior Sophia Wagner set those while winning floor exercise with 9.8 points and all-around at 37.38.

“My teammates really motivated me,” she said. “We’ve been having good practices and I think competition pushes me to work harder. It felt really good to compete at home.”

Four teams were scheduled to compete, but only two showed up.

Esky scored 134.7 points and first-year entry Bark River-Harris had 85.27.

“That’s a very nice score for our second meet of the season,” Esky coach Theresa Pascoe said. “I was very pleased with the team’s ethics today. That was an amazing routine by Sophia. Her routine was very clean. This is the best I’ve seen her perform. When you work hard and put in the time, you’ll get these kinds of scores. Sophia is highly motivated. She wants to be a state champion. It’s 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical.”

Wagner’s score on floor topped the previous record (9.7) set by senior Sophie Lehto last season.

“I couldn’t be more happy for Sophia,” Lehto said. “She deserves it. Having a meet before this helped get the jitters out. It’s nice to have a meet here. We’re more energetic at home. Having our crowd here to cheer us on really helps.”

Wagner also won balance beam (9.5), vault (9.2) and uneven bars (8.88).

Senior Riley Martin took second in all-around (33.675), vault with a personal-best 8.9 and beam (8.05) and shared the runner-up spot with Lehto on uneven bars (7.825).

“Having the right mind set helped,” Martin said. “This helps my confidence quite a bit. I need to put in the extra work to go above nine, although floor is what I need to work on the most.”

Lehto placed second on floor (9.5) and third in all-around (33.625) and vault (8.8) and fourth on beam (7.5).

“Riley was very happy with her performance,” Lehto said. “She had good scores.”

Pascoe also offered an assessment of the team’s overall performance.

“I’m very proud of the girls,” she said. “They all did a great job. Riley’s skill is there, but she just has to get over the fear of doing it. We still have work to do. We had 14 falls off beam which is unacceptable. We need to clean up on that.”

BR-H was also rewarded for its effort

After the Eskymos received their championship trophy, the Broncos were awarded the runner-up trophy after only their second gymnastics meet in school history.

“We’re excited,” BR-H coach Alex Zelenak said. “No matter what, we’re taking it home. I’m really proud of our girls. They were going out of their comfort zone and exceeded our expectations. The main thing is we have a four-week gap to work on things. The girls know what they have to work on. They’re excited.

Iron Mountain sophomore Lucy Baumgartner, who competes for the Broncos through a co-op venture, placed third on beam (7.7).

Baumgartner, a niece to Olympic gold medalist Nick Baumgartner, also took fourth in all-around (32.37), vault (8.45) and bars (7.325) and fifth on floor (8.9). She’s the first Iron Mountain student to compete in gymnastics since 1982 when the Mountaineers dropped their program.

“I’m happy with my scores, and I have a month to improve on some skills,” she said. “I have at least one qualifying score for regionals in all events. I used to live in Iron River and traveled to Rhinelander (Wis.) for workouts. Now, my mom drives me to practice twice a week.”

Esky travels downstate to compete in the Walled Lake Invitational Dec. 16. BR-H resumes in the new year.

All-around — 1, Wagner, E, 37.38 (school record); 2, Martin, E; 3, Lehto, E; 4, Baumgartner, BR-H; 5, Hill, E.

Balance beam — 1, Wagner, E, 9.5; 2, Martin, E; 3, Baumgartner, BR-H; 4, Lehto, E; 5, Jorasz, BR-H.

Floor exercise — 1, Wagner, E, 9.8 (school record); 2, Lehto, E; 3, Cloutier, E; 4, Hill, E; 5, Baumgartner, BR-H.

Vault — 1, Wagner, E, 9.2; 2, Martin, E; 3, Lehto, E; 4, Baumgartner, BR-H; 5, Cloutier and Saari, E (tie).

Uneven bars — 1, Wagner, E, 8.88; 2, Lehto and Martin, E (tie); 4, Baumgartner, BR-H; 5, Hill, E.

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