Stypinski transforms into elite all-around performer

Then a sophomore, Rachel Stypinski performs her balance beam routine on Feb. 7, 2016. Stypinski tied a Kent State record in the uneven bars (9.950) as the Flashes came in second at the George Washington quad meet on Feb. 4, 2018. 

Scott Lendak

Many gymnasts would boast about their individual awards and accomplishments, but that doesn’t matter to junior Rachel Stypinski, who would much rather focus on her team’s success than her individual success. 

“I try not to think about myself as much because I like to think more about the team,” Stypinski said.

Stypinski’s selfless attitude hasn’t stopped her from becoming one of the most dominant and best all-around gymnasts in the Mid-American Conference though.

In just three career meets in which Stypinski competed in all four events, she has won the all-around title in two of them, and she is also undefeated this season in meets where she competes in the all-around.

“She just has that dislike of losing, which is really a great quality to have,” head coach Brice Biggin said. “She makes things look so easy it’s incredible to watch her perform as an athlete.”

She may make it look easy, but Stypinski said the switch to the all-around was extremely hard on her, both physically and mentally.

“Your body definitely takes a beating, adding two more events,” Stypinski said. “You’re mentally and physically drained and are asked to step up and clear that from your head and keep going if I want to help my team.”

Stypinski said the event she had the most trouble adjusting to was the vault.

“Vault was hard because it’s a completely new vault,” Stypinski said. “I haven’t even done it in club when I was in high school so coming in we had to go to other gyms, go to the pits, then come here and learn it here. I still need more numbers under my belt to improve, but it’s coming along.”

Stypinski posted her best all-around score of 39.525 in the Flashes home meet against Western Michigan Jan. 20, a mark that tied former gymnast Jessie James for the fourth-best mark in school history.

“It was really awesome seeing that because I know it wasn’t my best meet and I can improve and do better,” Stypinski said. “Maybe I could get the best all-around score that Kent State has ever had, but I also want my team to have the best all-around score Kent State’s ever had.”

Stypinski won the MAC Gymnast of the Week award in the first two weeks of the season, and she has improved her all-around score from 39.400 to 39.525 throughout the course of the season.

“She has really turned into a fierce competitor,” Biggin said. “She’s always been good, but she’s taken it to a different level this year and it’s really enjoyable to watch.”

Stypinski and the rest of the Flashes will take on West Virginia at the MAC Center at 2 p.m. Saturday.

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