Kent State gymnasts take first in quad meet to end regular season

Lily Flynn

With seven consecutive wins, the Kent State Gymnastics team could feel the pressure going into its last meet of the regular season, but did not want it to affect their performance.

“This team is having a special season,” Flashes coach Brice Biggin said. “7-0 in the [Mid-American] conference, 12-2 on the season, and a chance to hopefully be 15-2 at the end of the weekend. The crowd has really helped spur on the level of intensity of our athletes, and it’s been a great place for us to compete in. We don’t like losing here, and certainly when the crowds come and support us there is a lot of extra incentive for our team to go out there and really perform at their best.”

The Flashes did not disappoint, taking first with an overall score of 195.975 and adding yet another win to their record. The quad meet also featured New Hampshire (194.675), Southeast Missouri State (194.025) and Cornell (192.450). The team remains undefeated in their conference, defeating 14 opponents in the regular season.

“Obviously we’re very happy with the win,” Biggin said. “I think we came out with really good focus. We came out with really good determination.”

The team began on vault, scoring a 48.925 overall. Senior Lauren Wozniak and sophomore Chelsea Drooger both posted a 9.825 in the event, tying for second place. Continuing to the uneven bars, senior Rachel Guida once again secured a first place spot in the event, scoring a 9.875.

Throughout the season the team has continued to struggle on the balance beam at home, but managed to secure the top spot at their last meet, scoring a 49.225 overall, their highest score of the night. Junior Marie Case continued her streak on the balance beam, scoring a 9.925, while freshman Nicolle Eastman also scored high, posting a 9.900.

“It was different and it was nice,” Biggin said of the team’s performance on the beam. “To be honest, we’ve struggled a little bit on beam at home, and that is unusual because usually you are going to be more comfortable at home and you usually see them relaxed, and yet we have competed great [on beam] away from home. [We] haven’t counted a fall all year and that’s extremely unusual. So it was nice for them to be able to go out there, get a little wrench thrown in there in the middle, and yet still have them respond the way they did. I think that is really going to help us a lot next week heading into the MAC Championship.”

The Flashes finished strong on the floor exercise, scoring a 48.825 overall. Katlin Isaacs tied for first place in the event with a score of 9.825. Sophomores Amiah Mims and Nicole Radon, and Wozniak all scored a 9.775 in the event.

In addition to the meet, five seniors were showcased for Senior Night — Guida, Wozniak, Lindsey Runyan, Felicia Charles, and Stephanie Smart.

“The fact that is our last meet doesn’t really matter before the meet at all because to us it’s just another chance for us to go out and do our best,” Runyan said. “We compete as a team. It was great that we got to end our meet with a nice win, but I think that it doesn’t change at all, and it’s important that we kept our emotions in check the whole time and we did that.”

The Flashes will next travel to Kalamazoo, Mich., on March 23 to compete in the Mid-American Conference Championship, hosted by Western Michigan.

“You know, Brice [Biggin] said something really great in one of our team huddles this year after we had just beat a MAC team,” Runyan said in regard to the MAC Championship. “He said ‘we have won the battle, but we have yet to win the war.’ He was very profound on that one, and it stuck in my mind obviously. So hopefully we’re out to win the war.”

Contact Lily Flynn at [email protected].