P. by Frank Aceto
Associate Sports Editor
She was one of the greatest gymnasts in school history.
While Hudson head gymnastics coach Randi Chepke knew she had plenty of talented performers on her team, she also knows this harsh reality.
You can't replace 2013 graduate Logan Custer.
Fortunately for Chepke, the Lady Explorers' young stars are doing a pretty decent imitation of the former All-Ohio gymnast.
Hudson improved to 7-1 overall with victories over Northeast Ohio Conference rivals Solon and Twinsburg Jan. 4 at the Cleveland Gymnastics Center.
The Lady Explorers finished with 136.75 points and Solon was next with 130.2 points. Twinsburg scored 114.625 points.
"Our underclassmen really made some huge strides during this meet and I couldn't be more proud of them," Chepke said. "We're still feeling the void left by Logan Custer and we've been waiting to see them step up and post some bigger numbers. We got that in spades this week."
Solon's Olivia Bell was the all-around champion with 34.725 points, but Hudson took the next three spots.
Megan Urbanic finished second (34.45) and Teghan Piper placed third (33.3). Macy Lori took fourth (32.3).
Urbanic finished second on vault (8.8) and the balance beam (8.8), fourth on bars (8.35) and tied for fourth on the floor exercise (8.5).
"The meet highlight came on vault," Chepke said. "We had to scratch Mackenzie [Miller] at the last moment so we called in Megan. She wasn't in the original lineup and hadn't warmed up.
"She stepped in and nailed it in front of the judges. It was a huge tsukara that earned an 8.8 - good for second place. She was awesome."
Piper finished third on beam (8.6) and tied for fifth on vault (8.45).
Lori captured second on floor (8.65) and fourth on beam (8.45).
Jenni Spencer and Mackenzie Miller earned first places for the Lady Explorers.
Spencer took first on floor (8.65) and Miller finished first on bars (8.875). Spencer added a third on vault (8.75).
"We really relied on the bottom of the lineup during the floor exercise and they delivered beautifully," Chepke said. "Everybody hit and grabbed four of the top five scores.
Also contributing for Hudson were Jordan Miller on bars (third, 8.4), Katie Goosman on vault (tied for fifth, 8.45), Kelsey Tetmeyer on beam (tied for fifth, 8.25) and Riley Skinner on floor (8.5) and beam (8.25).
"We started out on bars and we posted some very respectable scores, from Mackenzie's event-winning routine to senior Jordan hitting her first solid routine since spraining her ankle a couple of weeks ago," Chepke said. "It was a big improvement from what we were able to put together against Mentor."
Chepke also was pleased with her team's performance on the balance beam.
"The girls were able to stick four out of the six beam routines this week and that's also a big improvement from our last outing," she said. "Lose a few more wobbles and hit a few more bonus connections and we will be tough to beat here."
The Lady Explorers will be tough to beat against just about any opponent. And the best scores may still be coming.
"Overall, the girls are starting to put it together and show improvement each and every week," Chepke said. "It's exactly what we want to see and I'm excited for the next month of meets. It will be challenging, but I believe they're ready for it."
Hudson is scheduled to host NOC Valley Division rival North Royalton and nonconference teams Akron Archbishop Hoban and Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary Jan. 11 at Flytz Gymnastics in Cuyahoga Falls. The meet is set to begin at 5:45 p.m.