Eighth grader steps up for Packer gymnasts

Published 12:06 am Friday, December 14, 2012

Austin's Carolyn Hackel comes off the vault during her second attempt Thursday night in a dual against Mankato East. -- Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyeherald.com

While she’s surrounded by gymnasts who have competed at the Class ‘A’ state and individual meets for the past three years, Austin eighth grader Maddie Mullenbach is starting to feel comfortable with the Packers gymnastic team.

Austin's Sela Fadness hits the vault during her second attempt Thursday during the Packers' dual against Mankato East at the YMCA.

Mullenbach, who was competing as an all-arounder for the first time at the varsity level at the YMCA in Austin Thursday, took second in three of her four events and second in the all-around competition as the Packers topped Mankato East 141.9-111.45.

Mullenbach tallied a 9.2 on the floor and vault, she scored an 8.75 on the beam and she tallied an 8.275 on the bars.

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“We’re pretty happy with where Maddie is,” Austin head coach Mark Raymond said. “She did a very nice job and she took care of some little things we’ve been working on. She’s worked really hard to get to this point and we’re happy it came together for her tonight.”

Austin junior Sela Fadness took first in all four of her events and won the all-around Thursday. The three-time state qualifier sees a lot of skill in Mullenbach, who the team has welcomed with open arms.

“I see a lot of potential in her, but I could’ve said that three weeks ago,” Fadness said. “She’s a tough competitor and the Big Nine and sections better watch our for her. She’s gonna be something big.”

Mullenbach hasn’t felt any nerves while competing with some of the best gymnasts in the state on a daily basis.

“They’re all real fun and they make me feel like I’m at home,” she said. “They’re not hard on each other and I think I’m fitting in.”

The Packers are in good shape early this season as they’ve scored very close to the mark they put up when they took fifth at state last season (142.025) in their first three meets.

Raymond is happy with that number, but he’d like to see his squad improve even more.

“We’re finding out where our flaws are,” he said. “We need to be in a little better shape and we need to hit more full floor routines. We’re starting to compare them to last year at the end of the year and that’s probably not fair, but we have some high expectations. I’m happy with where we are.”

Austin's Abby Bickler performs on the balance beam Thursday during a dual with Mankato East at the YMCA.

Fadness, who took second in the all-around and tied for first in the floor at state last season, said she’s not quite where she needs to be yet.

“Skill-wise I’m pretty close to where I need to be, but I need to clean everything up if I want to reach my goals by the end of the season,” she said. “I’ll put in what I can right now and hopefully it’ll get there.”

One sure thing with the Packers is that their floor routine always impresses and Thursday wasn’t any different. Fadness scored a 9.4, Carolyn Hackel scored a 9.125 and Abby Bickler scored a 8.9.

“We’re packed with talent in every event, but especially floor,” Fadness said. “One of our goals this season is to break the state floor record and we have seven or eight girls that can come on the floor for varsity. We’re really lucky.”

Mullenbach is glad to have a chance to compete in the floor and she’s been looking forward to it since last year.

“After state last year, they’ve always been pumped up on the floor because they almost broke the state record,” she said. “Now I feel like I need to be a part of that.”

Austin's Abby Snater performs on the uneven parallel bars during a dual against Mankato East Thursday night at the YMCA.

With the three meets under their belts, the Packers have shown that they have plenty of depth. The Packers have used all 12 of their gymnasts in the varsity lineup already and the team hasn’t missed a beat.“It’s fun to know we’re deep and we have a lot of kids that can step up,” Raymond said.


Vault: Sela Fadness (first, 9.425); Maddie Mullenbach (second, 9.20); Carolyn Hackel (third, 9.175); Abby Bickler (fourth, 9.075); Abby Snater (fifth, 8.8)

Bars: Sela Fadness (first, 9.425); Abby Bickler (second, 8.425); Abby Snater (third, 8.325); Maddie Mullenbach (fourth, 8.275); Carolyn Hackel (fifth, 8.15)

Beam: Sela Fadness (first, 8.85); Maddie Mullenbach (second, 8.75); Carolyn Hackel (third, 8.1); Abby Snater (fourth, 8.25); Abby Bickler (sixth, 7.3)

Floor: Sela Fadness (first, 9.4); Maddie Mullenbach (second, 9.2); Carolyn Hackel (third, 9.125); Abby Bickler (fourth, 8.9); Rachel Quandt (fifth, 7.875)

All-Around: Sela Fadness (first, 37.1); Maddie Mullenbach (second, 35.425); Carolyn Hackel (third, 34.550); Abby Bickler (fourth, 33.7)