ANTIGO - Lakeland Union High School has had a rough season in gymnastics. Injuries and illness have ravaged the team to the point where only two girls competed in the White division of the Antigo Invite.
Lexie Tiffany and Kaitlin Hayes, who was coming off an injury herself, were the sole Thunderbirds to compete on Saturday, but managed to post a strong performance.
Despite only having two gymnasts, Lakeland still managed to place sixth out of seven teams in a meet won by Rhinelander.
"The girls have been working really hard on their routines and cleaning them up," LUHS head coach Laura Hayes said. "We have known for weeks that our chance of getting a team score again is very slim, so we continue to work on individual goals."
Tiffany was able to place sixth in the all-around category with a score of 28.825.
She placed sixth in the uneven bars with a score of 6.875, while placing eighth in the floor exercise at 7.4, ninth in the vault at 7.8 and 13th in the balance beam with a score of 6.75.
"Lexie had an amazing bars. She nailed her new release move," Hayes said. "Her floor routine was also very smooth and well performed. She got a personal record this meet on floor. She missed placing on both bars and all around by just one spot."
Kaitlin Hayes competed for the first time in more than a month thanks to an injury and having only one other meet this month.
Despite that, she was still able to take seventh in the all-around with a score of 27.7.
Even as she fights off an injury, Hayes proved to be one of the top vaulters in the Great Northern Conference, placing fourth with a score of 8.1. She also placed ninth in the balance beam with a score of 7.05 and the floor exercise at 7.3. Hayes was also 13th in the uneven bars, scoring a 5.25.
"Considering Kaitlin is still recovering, she had a great meet. She had a very pretty beam routine and a good floor routine," coach Hayes said. "She placed in vault even though she struggled a little. I am proud of her for pushing through both her injuries and performing well this meet."
While Hayes and Tiffany both represent Lakeland, the seniors are two of the more talented gymnasts in the conference.
That allows them to compete in practice and develop a friendly rivalry in the gym.
"These two girls have an excellent work ethic in the gym. They are always willing to work hard, listen to changes, and put in the extra effort," Laura Hayes said. "They are very coachable. This helps them to improve both individually and together. They push each other."
Lakeland is back in action this evening with a dual meet against visiting Chequamegon at 5:45 p.m.
Nick Sabato may be reached at email@example.com or via Twitter @SabatoNick.