Flashes’ season ends in road to Nationals


Senior Milena Fabry flips across the balance beam during the meet against Ball State Friday, March 10, 2017. Alexander Wadley / The Kent Stater

Scott Lendak

The Kent State gymnastics team finished in last place at Saturday’s NCAA Regional in Morgantown, West Virginia, but coach Brice Biggin said he was still proud of his team.

“When you’re competing against five teams in the top 23, it’s not easy,” Biggin said, whose team finished sixth overall. “I was certainly proud to be there, and I think our kids should be glad to be there. There were a lot of other teams that were sitting at home.”

The Flashes (5-8, 3-3 Mid-American Conference) finished with a score of 194.375, which was their worst score since the third week of the season. Biggin said he thought a few individual gymnasts performed well. 

“Skyelee Lamano had a good senior meet,” Biggin said. “As a senior I am so happy for her because she’s been a great kid for us, and it was a great way for her to go out. Seniors Jordan Hardison and Samantha Gordon also performed well. I thought the whole senior class had a great meet.”

Lamano’s best finish came in 26th in both the uneven bars and floor events, while Hardison managed 13th in the vault and Gordon reached 36th on the floor category.

Junior Rachel Stypinski tied for ninth in the all-around competition with a score of 39.050, which was 0.125 points short from advancing to the NCAA National Championships. Stypinski posted the Flashes’ top two scores of the day with a 9.875 on floor and a 9.850 on bars.  

“Rachel unfortunately had a little bit of an off-meet,” Biggin said.  “She’s battled a bad ankle since before MAC Championships. She gutted out four events today, and a lot of kids would not have gone through what she went through in the past three weeks.”

Junior Brooke Timko didn’t compete due to injury, but Biggin said the team has been able to fight through injuries all year. 

“I’m proud of the team because we fought through a lot of adversity this year,” Biggin said.  “We went through more injuries than we’ve had in a long time, and we kept having people step up and fill in.  Maybe it wasn’t quite at the level that we wanted it to be at times, but they never gave up.  You never like to lose, but being healthier certainly gives you more opportunities to compete at a high level.”

Sophomore Kennedy Plude scored a 9.800 to tie for tenth on balance beam. The Flashes received a team score of 47.950 on the balance beam, which was their lowest score on the event since the first week of the season.

“Kennedy Plude had a good beam routine, but the most unfortunate part of this meet was that we’ve been so good for the last five weeks on beam,” Biggin said.  “It’s one of those events where, if you have an early kid fall, sometimes it tenses up the other kids.  We had a fall on the first routine and that normally doesn’t happen, so we had a few kids get a little tight.”

Michigan (197.350) and Alabama (196.625) had the top two team scores and will advance to the NCAA National Championships.

“It wasn’t due to a lack of effort or attitude,” Biggin said of the team’s performance. “Unfortunately in sports, sometimes it’s your day and sometimes it’s not. If we just do a normal beam set, we’d be right there with every other team.”

The Flashes finished the season fourth in the MAC. The Flashes also finished 31st in the country with an average team score of 195.210. 

Scott Lendak is a sports reporter, contact him at [email protected].