by Frank Aceto
Associate Sports Editor
It was their biggest meet of the season, but the Lady Explorers had a rather unusual approach to the loaded Rock-n-Roll Classic Jan. 25 at Brecksville-Broadview Heights High School.
"We took this meet very lightheartedly -- little to no pressure," Hudson head gymnastics coach Randi Chepke said. "We set very realistic goals: Stay in the top five, rest a few of our all-arounds and get every girl on the team in the lineup."
The Lady Explorers may want to try this light-hearted approach in the future.
That's because Hudson finished in a very respectable third place with 139.475 points.
Reigning state champion Brecksville won the seven-team competition with 142.25 points and Mentor took second with 140.725 points.
"We accomplished exactly what we set out to do," Chepke said. "We checked every box and then some."
Just about everyone shine for the Lady Explorers, including seniors Jordan Miller and Riley Skinner.
"Both of our seniors had career highs -- Jordan on vault, Riley on floor," Chepke said. "We set a team high on the floor ex with a 36.6, which incidentally, was also the highest event score in the entire meet.
"And we stayed within striking distance of first place despite not having our two top all-arounds competing every event. Can't really ask for more than that."
Hudson started on vault and did not have a single athlete finish in the top six. Nevertheless, the Lady Explorers posted some solid scores.
Miller and Jenni Spencer each led the way with a score of 8.725. Also competing for Hudson were Megan Urbanic (8.55) and Macy Lori (8.175).
"We knew vault was going to be tough," Chepke said. "This was the first meet we had to make the transition to a hard surface landing. That's daunting for even the biggest vaulters, but every one of them went all out
"They didn't all end up on their feet, but the effort was there and I'm proud of them. They will get more confident about the landing or they won't. Regardless, I know they will give it everything they've got."
The Lady Explorers proved to far more formidable on the bars. Mackenzie Miller led the way with a second-place score of 9.025. Teammate Macy Lori was next for Hudson in fifth (8.825).
Also competing for the Lady Explorers were Jordan Miller (8.575) and Megan Urbanic (8.4).
"Mackenzie delivered another solid bar performance -- about as flawless execution as you'll see," Chepke said. "She takes a few 10ths deduction for lack of difficulty, but there's no denying she has mastered her routine. Macy, Jordan and Meg also battled to get us every 10th they could."
Mackenzie Miller led Hudson on the balance beam with a sixth-place score of 8.725. Rounding out the participants for the Lady Explorers were Skinner (8.7), Urbanic (8.35) and Lori (8.1).
"This is the second time this season we've had to count a fall on beam and we certainly hope it's our last," Chepke said.
Mackenzie Miller concluded her stellar evening with a third-place score of 9.475 on the floor. Skinner captured fourth (9.325).
"I have never been more proud of our floor performers," Chepke said. "They knew they were going to fall short of our goal if we didn't pull off some magic on the last event.
"They showed some major grit during the touch warm-up, but I had no way of knowing just how big they would hit. Each score climbed.
"They fed off each other's performance until it culminated with Riley and Mac and our season's highest scores anywhere. They were beautiful."
Hudson is scheduled to compete at the Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division Meet Feb. 1 at Medina High School. The meet is set to begin at 1 p.m.
"We deliberately tried not to leave it all at the Rock-n-Roll," Chepke said. "We don't want this to be our best all-around meet. We want that to come in Columbus."