Flashes edged out by Eastern Michigan in close matchup

Kent State junior Rachel Stypinski competes on the uneven bars at a meet against West Virginia at the M.A.C. Center on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2017. Kent State lost 195.950-194.875.

Scott Lendak

The Kent State gymnastics team had the top scorer in three events in Friday’s meet at Eastern Michigan University, but coach Brice Biggin said the team fell too far behind.

“We didn’t give ourselves a good chance on our first event,” Biggin said. “We fell behind way too much on bars and need to do a better job over there.”

Eastern Michigan (5-2, 3-0 Mid-American Confrence) beat Kent State (2-6, MAC 1-2) by a score of 195.750-195.575 to remain in first place in the Mid American Conference. The loss keeps The Flashes in fifth place in the MAC standings.

The Flashes received their best team score of the year in the losing effort, which led to Biggin saying that there were some positives to take away from the meet.

“Any time you lose … we’re not happy,” Biggin said. “But I think the effort that the girls put in today was way improved over last week. Their attitudes were good and I thought we fought really hard.”

The Flashes fell behind early on bars and lost the event by a score of 49.050-48.575. Junior Brooke Timko placed second with a 9.825, while junior Michaela Romito and sophomore Dara Williams tied for sixth with a score of 9.725.

The Flashes responded in the vault event by beating Eastern Michigan 48.975-48.725, a result that Biggin was pleased with.

“We scored really well on vault,” Biggin said. “It was probably the best set of vaults that we’ve done as a team so far, so that was really positive for us.”

Senior Jordan Hardison received first place on vault with a 9.900, with senior Skyelee Lamano, sophomore Kennedy Plude and Dara Williams all tying for third place with 9.775. The Flashes had four out of the top five performers in the event.

After struggling the past few weeks on floor, the Flashes bounced back Friday and beat Eastern Michigan 49.300-48.975, something that junior Rachel Stypinski said she enjoyed.

“It felt like there was no pressure doing our routines,” Stypinski said. “Everyone was getting into our floor routines. It was a nice feeling to get that chip on our shoulders again, but we just have to make sure we keep it steady throughout the season.”

Stypinski and freshman Jade Brown tied for first on floor with scores of 9.925, Hardison finished in a tie for third with a 9.875, and Lamano tied for fifth with score of 9.850. 

“Brown did a phenomenal floor routine,” Biggin said. “She tied for first with …l Stypinski and anytime you tie for first with … Stypinski on (the) floor, that says a lot. For a freshman, that is a big step for her.”

The Flashes finished the night on the balance beam where they fell 49.000-48.725. 

“Our last two performers (on the beam) were most phenomenal,” Biggin said. “(Sophomore) Kennedy Plude had a great routine with a 9.875 and obviously … Stypinski’s 9.950. I’m proud of the team because finishing on beam is not an easy thing. But they fought until the end.”

Stypinski placed first while Plude finished fourth. Stypinski tied for first in the all-around with a score of 39.175. It was her first time competing in the all-around in three weeks due to rest.

“If we can give her breaks we like to do that,” Biggin said. “But she doesn’t like to come out of the lineup. She’s a competitive kid and likes to compete, and we like having her in there.”

Stypinski said that the team has to improve a little during practice this week.

“We really have to work on specific areas to make sure when we compete, it’s the same as it is in practice,” Stypinski said. “We just really have to work on our landings and clean up little things. It’s nothing major, it’s just the half-point deductions that we need to work on.”

The Flashes will continue their conference schedule when they host the Pink Meet and take on Central Michigan University (6-2, MAC 1-1) at 1 p.m. on Sunday in the MAC Center.

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