Kent State gymnastics ends season with road loss

Elise Kogelnik

Coach Brice Biggin said shaky landings cost the Kent State gymnastics team the win Sunday at their final meet of the season.

“We swung some really good bar routines,” Biggin said. “But then nearly every single one of our (gymnasts) took a step on their dismount. That’s a big problem when you don’t have any (gymnasts) sticking. A lot of (the Flashes) just took one step. They swung nice routines, but it comes down to the fall.”

Biggin said the Flashes need to stick at least half of their uneven bar and balance beam routines to win the championship. Sunday, however, the team gave up “a lot of little tenths.”

Biggin said sticking at least four out of five routines adds a lot to the team score.

Missed landings allowed the George Washington University Colonials to out-score the Flashes 195.400-195.275. Yale University took third place at the meet in Washington, D.C., with 191.775 points. This was Kent State’s second loss to the Colonials this season.

Kent State began the meet on the floor exercise, an event that the Flashes usually win at home. Senior Nicolle Eastman said this change gave the team a positive start.

“(Starting on the floor exercise) was kind of cool,” Eastman said, “because we started off on a really upbeat, exciting note. Those are the kinds of things we have to prepare for and be ready for. We’re not always going to go in the same order and be as comfortable as we are at home.”

Junior Jordan Hardison proved that she was prepared to compete outside of the M.A.C. Center, earning a 9.925 and a first place finish on the floor exercise – her highest score on the event away from home.

Hardison carried this energy onto the balance beam, where she posted a career-high 9.850. Hardison tied a gymnast from George Washington for third place on the event.

Eastman led the Flashes on vault with a career-high 9.825 and a third place finish.

Sophomore Rachel Stypinski did not compete Sunday due to concussion-like symptoms that began during warm-ups before the March 6 meet. Biggin said Stypinksi would’ve provided the Flashes with “a little additional spark” at Sunday’s meet.

“We’re taking it one day at a time with (Stypinski),” Biggin said. “She’s on the right path right now. If things continue to progress as is, I think we should have a good chance (at her competing in the Mid-American Conference Championships). We just have to hope that she continues to progress how she has been.”

Kent State will compete in the MAC Championships at 2 p.m. Saturday in Muncie, Indiana.

Aside from competition, Hardison said her favorite part of the weekend was touring Washington, D.C., The Flashes visited the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial and other landmarks.

“I think for the majority of the team, it was our first time (in D.C.),” Hardison said. “We got to see the monuments and take pictures. We had a really good time. It was cool that we got to come down a little early and be able to do that together.

When reflecting on the season, Eastman said the Flashes have gained confidence at away meets.

“(Sunday’s meet) was definitely a better away meet for us,” Eastman said. “We had some good and bad things, but we know how to go up from here. I’m very proud of how all the girls did today. It was a step in the right direction, and we’re hoping to go up in the rankings and solidify that spot for regionals – that’s what we’ve been working for all year.”

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