Gymnastics earns NCAA Championships berth



Tyler Goddard

Freshman Nikki Moore performs on the balnce beam Saturday at the M. A. C. Center. Moore scored a 9.650 on the balance beam during the Flashes 195.100-194.875 loss to Central Michigan. Photo by Jessica Yanesh.

No. 24 Kent State qualified for the NCAA Gymnastics National Championships Saturday. The No. 6 seeded Flashes finished in second place to steal the final spot from Ohio State.

The University of Michigan scored a first-place finish with a team score of 197.075. Kent State edged Ohio State for the second spot 195.450-195.350.

“This is a dream we’ve had all year,” said Brice Biggin, Kent State coach. “We knew we had an opportunity to do something special. We went in there with a chip on our shoulder, and they really did such a phenomenal job with going out there and not shying away and not backing down.”

Kent State had scores of 48.800 on vault, 48.750 on uneven bars, 48.850 on balance beam and 9.050 on floor exercise.

Senior Christina Lenny led Kent State by finishing second in the all-around with a 39.350. Kylee Botterman of Michigan narrowly scored higher than Lenny to win the all-around with a 39.500.

Biggin said the meet swung in the team’s favor on the balance beam. The Flashes hit all six of their routines for the event. Freshman Marie Case and Lenny tied for a team-high score of 9.850 on the beam.

Kent State also achieved one of its best floor exercise rotations of the season. Senior Christine Abou-Mitri scored a 9.825 and Case followed that with a 9.800.

“Ohio State thought they had won it when their last kid went, and Christina Lenny goes out there and rips off a 9.900 floor routine, and that sealed the deal,” Biggin said.

With the second-place finish, Kent State gymnastics reached its first National Championship meet in school history.

“Its hard to say how much it means because I don’t know if I have to say it enough: for our program, for the (Mid-American Conference) and for smaller teams that don’t have the recognition and the namesake that a lot of other teams do,” Biggin said.

Kent State will now compete April 15-17 in the event they are hosting in Cleveland at the Wolstein Center for a chance to win the school’s first team National Championship.

Contact Tyler Goddard at [email protected].