Kent State to host 2011 NCAA Gymnastics Championship in Cleveland

Tyler Goddard

Kent State will host the 2011 NCAA Gymnastics Championships in April at the Wolstein Center in Cleveland.

But when it comes to hosting national championship events, the Kent State name isn’t normally the first that comes to mind.

“The Greater Cleveland Sports Commission put together a bid a number of years ago to have Cleveland be a championship city, and it was an NCAA initiative,” said Alan Ashby, assistant athletic director. “We (Kent State) were included as part of that bid because we are the closest school to Cleveland that hosts a gymnastics program.”

The initiative selected between 10-12 cities throughout the country, and they would receive the opportunity to host multiple NCAA events. Ashby said the cities were narrowed down to six, with Cleveland still being one of them.

Ashby said the opportunity to host the event has already raised the profile of the Kent State program, but there are also challenges.

“The traditional gymnastics powers, such as Alabama or Utah, look at it like why is it in Cleveland?” he said. “So we have to overcome a little bit of that perception, but I know our coaches are excited for the opportunity to put on a first class event.”

Brice Biggin, Kent State gymnastics coach, said hosting a National Championship is a great opportunity that doesn’t arise often.

“For us to be in this position says a lot about Kent State Athletics and the women’s gymnastics program,” Biggin said. “We are certainly going to do everything we can to make it a success.”

Kent State is currently ranked No.16 in the country. The Flashes have aspirations of being at the event to compete as well as host.

Ashby said the event is a great opportunity for the school, especially in Northeast Ohio where Kent State attempts to target new students.

“I think it’s a great way for us to show that we can host a first class event like this and really do something on the national stage,” Ashby said.

The 2011 NCAA Gymnastics Championships are April 15-17 in Cleveland.

Contact Tyler Goddard at [email protected]