Gymnastics finish second at Mid-American Conference Championships


Lauren Wozniak, junior, flips on the balance beam at the meet against Cornell at the MAC on March 18. The Flashes beat the Big Red 196.025 to 192.425. Photo by Nancy Urchak.

Tim Dorst

The Kent State gymnastics team picked themselves up, brushed themselves off and returned to practice Monday after a gut-wrenching second-place finish at the Mid-American Conference Championships this past Saturday.

“I still have a pit in my stomach,” Coach Brice Biggin said. “I don’t like to lose.”

Biggin said the team entering the tournament as the No. 3 seed was a huge factor in the result of the meet. Because there are seven MAC teams who compete in the meet, there are seven rotations to complete the four events. This means teams have between-event breaks they do not normally get. Biggin said the top two seeded teams get to choose the order in which they will compete.

“Everyone knows those top two choices are important because you can start with a break instead of starting on an event,” Biggin said. “We put ourselves in that position though by finishing third in the regular season.”

With the choice out of their hands, Kent State was selected as the first team to begin the bar competition. Biggin said that was a tough place to start because scores are notoriously lower when you are the first team being judged.

“The judges are human,” Biggin said. “There’s always that thought if you start out giving high scores early and then when there are great routines that come after, what do you do? I told them next year we just can’t do that to ourselves. We need one of those top two seeds.”

Junior Rachel Guida led the Flashes on bars by posting a 9.850 that earned her second place overall. However, her efforts alone weren’t enough and Kent State fell behind early.

The Flashes then moved to the beam, where a fall that started off the event threatened to dismantle the team even further. Instead, the Flashes rallied and posted a 48.475. Junior Lauren Wozniak led the way with a 9.775.

“When your first kid goes up and falls on any event, it’s difficult,” Biggin said. “When they fall on beam, it’s a nightmare. They went out there and looked confident still and didn’t let that fall effect them. I couldn’t be more proud of the beam team.”

The Flashes posted solid scores through the next two rotations — floor and vault — and were able to capture first place headed into the final rotation of the competition.

With that rotation being a bye for the Flashes, they watched as Central Michigan took the floor and Western Michigan competed on bars. The Chippewas, who were the defending Mid-American Conference Champions, scored a 49.225 on floor to edge the Flashes out of first place.

It took the Chippewas’ season-best score to defeat the Flashes 195.675-195.225.

Biggin said other than the three falls, he was proud of every gymnasts’ performance.

“It’s always a close championship, and it comes down to little details,” Biggin said. “Central Michigan always does a great job at the end of the season. They did what they needed to win another championship, so hats off to them.”

The Flashes are now preparing for the NCAA Gymnastics Championship hosted by North Carolina State. The Flashes’ first rotation will be on the bars. The tournament is set to begin April 7 at 4 p.m.

Tickets can be purchased from N.C. State’s athletic department.

Contact Tim Dorst at [email protected].