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by Frank Aceto
Associate Sports Editor
One would think Hudson head gymnastics coach Randi Chepke has seen it all.
She has coached a state champion and has guided multiple teams to the state meet during her seven-year tenure.
But the 2013-14 Lady Explorers have a knack for making Chepke's jaw drop to the floor.
"These girls surprise me each and every time they hit the floor," she said. "Each competition pulls something new out of them -- something we don't always get to see at practice. It's amazing."
Hudson will have at least one more week to amaze its coach.
The Lady Explorers advanced to the Division I district competition after placing second at a sectional meet Feb. 16 at West Geauga High School in Chesterland.
Hudson scored 139.2 points. Mentor won the 13-team competition with 140.825 points. Also qualifying for districts mere Stow-Munroe Falls (131.075) and Nordonia (130.25).
And to top it off, the Lady Explorers earned the team sportsmanship award after the meet.
Hudson is scheduled to compete at a Division I district meet Feb. 22 at West Geauga.
The competition is set to begin at 10 a.m.
"Moving on as a team was our primary goal," Chepke said. "Accomplishing that would have been more than enough, but advancing seven out of our eight competitors is just unbelievable. I am so incredibly proud of them all."
The top 12 individuals in each event advanced to a district meet, which is scheduled to take place Feb. 22 at West Geauga High School. The action is set to begin at 10 a.m.
Mackenzie Miller led the Lady Explorers with second-place finishes on bars (8.95) and the floor exercise (9.15). Teammate Riley Skinner took third on the floor exercise (9.125) placed 11th on the balance beam (8.575).
Freshman Macy Lori also had a big meet.
She placed fifth on bars with a score of 8.825 and eighth on the balance beam (8.8).
She finished ninth in the all-around competition (34.025).
"I'm very happy about making it to districts and glad I was able to do my part," Lori said.
Jenni Spencer advanced in two events and the all-around competition.
She placed seventh on vault (8.925), ninth on the floor exercise (8.65) and 12th in the all-around scoring (33.9).
Also qualifying were Jordan Miller on bars (10th, 8.65), Megan Urbanic on vault (11th, 8.675) and the all-around competition (11th, 33.925) and Katie Goosmann on bars (11th, 8.65).
"No one athlete deserves any more kudos than the next," Chepke said. "Each one of them did something extraordinary.
"Riley, Mac and Jenni are all making repeat appearances at districts. Jordan, Megan, Katie and Macy are all first-timers as individuals.
This truly was an all-out team effort. What more can a coach ask for?"
Jordan Miller, a senior captain, and her teammates are planning to make the most of their opportunity.
"We feel great about advancing," Jordan Miller said. "We are so pumped for districts."
If the Lady Explorers can put together another performance like this, they have a chance to qualify for the state meet for the second consecutive year.
The top five teams and top 16 individuals in each event advance to the state competition.
"It will be an uphill battle all the way to Columbus, but if they can focus on the things they do well and minimize our everyday struggles, they will get there," Chepke said.