Senior gymnasts honored in win over Cornell

Sophomore Rachel Stypinski performs her balance beam routine in the M.A.C. Center on Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016.

Elise Kogelnik

The coaches of the Kent State University gymnastics team asked the seniors if they had anything to say after Sunday’s meet and Nicolle Eastman could only think of two simple words: ‘Thank you.’

“The second I finished my floor routine, I just kind of lost it,” Eastman said. “I started crying and (Head Coach Brice Biggin) was like, ‘Hold it together, we’re not done yet!’ I have so much pride for this school and this team. (Between) the coaches and my teammates, I’ve had so much support. It was a storybook ending at home.”


The Flashes honored Eastman, Kayla Kosmerl and Rebecca Osmer with a 196.000-193.175 win over Cornell University. 

Eastman earned a career-high 9.925 on the floor exercise, putting her in second place behind junior Jordan Hardison, who scored 9.950 points. Eastman tied freshman Dara Williams and a gymnast from Cornell for first on the vault at 9.800. The senior also tied junior Milena Fabry for third on the balance beam with 9.800 points.

Eastman, an early childhood education major, was greeted after the meet with hugs, flowers and signs from the kindergarten students she teaches at Riverview Elementary School. Eastman said she’ll be at all of the gymnastics meets next semester while she finishes student teaching.

Osmer, a communication major, has had a job with a travel company waiting for her for two years. She’ll begin working and traveling the country as soon as the gymnastics season ends. She hopes to eventually see the world.

Osmer said her favorite memory in the M.A.C. Center was in 2015 when the Flashes hosted the Mid-American Conference championship.

“I had a really bad year last year,” said Osmer with tears in her eyes. “We didn’t make it to regionals, and I feel responsible for that. But we hosted the MAC tournament here, and it came down to me needing to hit my routine for us to win. It just happened for me. That was a moment I will never forget.”

Osmer posted a 9.800 on the uneven bars, earning her a fifth place finish Sunday.

Kosmerl, aims to work as a nurse in labor and delivery upon graduation, but she’ll stay involved in gymnastics, too.

“I definitely want to coach (gymnastics) eventually,” Kosmerl said. “I want to stick around and stay involved. (Gymnastics) isn’t like basketball where you can just shoot around anytime. I’m not going to be able to bend like this much longer, so I want to stay involved with coaching and stuff like that.”

Kosmerl contributed 9.850 points to the Flashes’ team score of 49.475 on the floor exercise.

Biggin said he is proud of the seniors’ abilities to control their emotions and focus on their routines.

“All three of (the seniors) had great meets (Sunday),” Biggin said. “(Osborne) hit a great bar routine, (Kosmerl) had a great floor routine and (Eastman) hit all three events. (Eastman) maybe had her best meet of the year so far. It’s really nice to see those kids, who have put in so much time and so much effort into your program, leave their final meets here on a very high, successful note. 

“We told the team, ‘This meet is for (the seniors). It’s for all the sacrifices, the sweat, the blood the tears, everything they’ve gone through. Today’s meet is for them.’”

Assistant Coach Sharon Sabin said the seniors have grown a lot over the past four years.

“(Eastman) has become a lot more confident when she competes under pressure,” Sabin said. “(Kosmerl) has gotten exposure competing. She got in on floor, and now she’s a person we depend on for a good floor score. (Osmer) has always been in our bar lineup, and she has a beautiful bar routine. Hopefully they all go off and do big things, but we’re not done yet.”

The Flashes will take on George Washington University and Yale University at 1 p.m. in Washington, D.C., Sunday. Kent State will then head to Muncie, Indiana, March 19 to compete in the MAC championship tournament.

With the last few meets of the season in sight, Osmer said she isn’t ready to let gymnastics go.

“Gymnastics will always be a part of me,” Osmer said. “It has been a huge passion of mine ever since I started it. The lessons I learned from gymnastics – the strength and determination and doing what you love at all times – it’s something that you don’t just leave behind. I’ll always be searching for something like that to fill my void from gymnastics.” 

Elise Kogelnik is the gymnastics beat reporter for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].