Stypinski-less Flashes prepare for MAC Championships

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Senior Michaela Romito suspends upside-down on the uneven bars during Kent State’s annual Pink meet. 

Libby Schrack

The Kent State gymnastics team is heading into the Mid-American Conference Championships ranked third in the conference. There are high hopes for the team ranked behind only Central Michigan and Northern Illinois.

“We aren’t trying to act like this is a different meet because they can’t do different routines,” Kent State coach Brice Biggin said.

At the last meet, senior star gymnast Rachel Stypinski faced a leg injury that led her on a trip to the emergency room. Biggin confirmed that Stypinski will not be competing this weekend at the championships.

“Losing Rachel meant we lost our leadoff performer on vault,” Biggin said.  “Brooke Timko is someone who we believe will become a very key element on vault for us.”

Biggin’s main focus is finding consistent vaults from the Flashes. Biggin also said at this point, the team has nothing to lose, and he has full faith in other gymnasts stepping up.

Freshman Abby Fletcher has brought in huge scores for the Flashes this year on vault, beam and floor.

“This whole week I have just been working on being consistent, calm and confident,” Fletcher said.

Fletcher said even though this is her first MAC Championships, she is feeling prepared after the Masters Classic meet in Nebraska.

“I am super excited,” Fletcher said confidently. “I think the atmosphere is going to help us.”

Another step-up performer for the Flashes this season has been junior Kennedy Plude.

Plude is the leadoff performer on the balance beam and has made her routine the past two weeks. This set up success for her teammates on the balance beam.

“I hope we hit 24 out of 24 routines,” Plude said.

Plude has only competed on beam this season, but with the loss of Stypinski, she could potentially compete in vault this weekend.

Senior Ali Marrero’s goal for her team is to be MAC champions. Marrero has been a standout performer for the Flashes on bars and beam.

“We’ve been working on the little stuff like sticking our landings and hitting handstands,” Marrero said. “I definitely feel like we are prepared for this weekend.”

Marrero’s main focus as a senior leader for her teammates is stepping up from losing Stypinski.

“I hope we improve and step up from losing Rachel to an injury,” Marrero said. “I know we can totally do that.

“We owe that to her.”

The MAC Championships begin at 2 p.m. Saturday at McGuirk Arena in Mount Pleasant, Michigan.

Libby Schrack is a sports reporter. Contact her at [email protected]