by Frank Aceto
Associate Sports Editor
For the last 10 years, the Division I state gymnastics meet has been a battle for second place.
While Hudson may have been seeking the silver medal, a bronze will certainly do.
The Lady Explorers finished third with 140.2 points at the state meet March 1 at Hilliard Bradley High School. Brecksville-Broadview Heights won its 10th consecutive state championship with 148.325 points and Strongsville took second with 142.425 points. A total of 12 teams competed.
Since the 2009-10 season, Hudson has reached the state meet three times. In 2011, the Lady Explorers placed second after finishing third in 2010.
"It's a great finish to an awesome season -- an all-out team effort," Hudson head coach Randi Chepke said. SDLqThe girls really stepped up and battled for every 10th - from the very first gymnast in the lineup on the very first event. I'm so proud of every one of their accomplishments."
Strongsville, which had gone back and forth with the Lady Explorers throughout the season, was the state runner-up in 2011.
"No team heads to states in hopes of placing third," Chepkle said. "But when the competition is that fierce, you do what you have to do to stay in the race. The girls did that."
Hudson made a run at Brecksville and Strongsville, thanks to its depth. A different individual led the Lady Explorers in each of the four apparatuses.
Junior Jordan Miller put up big scores in all four events. She scored an 8.6 on the balance beam, an 8.525 on vault, an 8.45 on the floor exercise and an 8.4 on the uneven parallel bars.
"Jordan Miller had the best meet of her life, starting with a tsuk on vault to a beautifully delivered floor routine," Chepke said. "She's a serious athlete with a truly competitive spirit and I was impressed she could bring it under all that pressure."
Junior Teghan Piper also had a strong all-around performance. She led the team on bars (8.9) and also fared well on vault (9), floor (8.9) and beam (8.675).
"Teghan Piper was solid all-around and probably had the biggest save of the day on her tumbling pass on beam," Chepke said."
The Lady Explorers' top two performers, senior Logan Custer and sophomore Mackenzie Miller, also rose to the occasion. Custer led Hudson in the floor exercise (9.175) and added a score of 8.7 on bars, while Mackenzie Miller led the Lady Explorers with a score of 9.15 on vault and scored an 8.775 on bars.
"Logan has had an illustrious career with Hudson and she went all out for her last team effort," Chepke said. "Mac led the way, as she has all season, with a solid yurchenko to top our team's effort on vault."
Custer and Mackenzie Miller qualified for the state meet for the second consecutive year. They also reached the state meet as individuals last year.
"I couldn't be more proud of the team and everything we've accomplished this year," Custer said. "It was the perfect way to end my gymnastics career with this group of talented girls."
Junior Riley Skinner and freshman Megan Urbanic led the team on the beam with a score of 8.75. Skinner added an 8.45 on floor exercise.
"Riley Skinner picked up every bonus 10th to give the team every edge possible," Chepke said. Megan Urbanic tied Riley for our highest beam score of the day and turned on the charm as she led off the team on the floor ex."
Freshman Jenni Spencer finished with a score of 8.925 on vault.
"I have to give big props to those girls from deeper in the lineup," Chepke said. "They gave it their all and turned in some of their best performances of the season."
Trio fares well
One day after the Hudson gymnastics team finished third at the state team competition, three Lady Explorers showed their stuff at the individual competition March 2.
Senior Logan Custer, sophomore Mackenzie Miller and junior Riley Skinner participated for Hudson. Custer and Miller reached the state meet for the second time while Skinner made her debut in Hilliard.
"Just making it out of our district competition is such a huge accomplishment," Lady Explorers head coach Randi Chepke said. "We have some of the best gymnasts in the state right here in the northeast. And these three girls proved they can stack up with the best of them."
Last year, Custer qualified in the all-around competition and also on the balance beam, floor exercise and uneven parallel bars. This year, Custer advanced on bars and floor.
Custer concluded her career with an 11th-place score of 9.075 and a 14th-place total of 8.75 on bars.
"There was no stress involved," she said. "It was a meet that I put everything I had into it because there was nothing for me to lose. I went big for everything and did everything I was taught to do. Finishing my last meet with Riley, Mac and coaches Jeni [Barrick] and Randi was very special to me."
Chepke believes her senior star had a meet to remember.
"Logan deserves every accolade she receives," Chepke said. "She's a consistent and capable gymnast who never disappoints. Her last floor routine was a real thing of beauty. She performed with every ounce of energy and enthusiasm she could muster."
Miller reached the state competition on floor in 2012. This year, the versatile sophomore qualified on vault and bars. Miller placed 17th on floor (8.625) and 25th on vault (9.075).
"Mackenzie had a tremendous year, culminating in her first-place finish in the all-around at sectionals," Chepke said. "She's got so much left to achieve and I'm sure we'll see her at states again next year."
Skinner made a smashing debut with a 14th-place score of 8.85 on beam.
"Riley had a great showing for a rookie at states," Chepke said. "She has been extremely consistent on this event all year and I think she'll continue to be a real threat here in the future."
Despite competing in such a pressure-packed event for the first time, Skinner did not let her nerves get the best of her.
"I'm very happy with my individual performance," she said. "I went in knowing there were girls there with bigger and better skills than me and that I wasn't going to win it. My goal was to stay on the beam and I did that.."