Gymnastics heads to Columbus for regional championship meet

Pamela Crimbchin

Team hopes high score can lead to berth at nationals

The Kent State gymnastics team won the Mid-American Conference regular season championship undefeated and the MAC Championship for the second year in a row. Now they will try to win the Division I Central Regional Championship at Ohio State this Saturday.

The ultimate goal of the gymnastics team is to, “make it to nationals, both as a team and individually,” sophomore Christine Abou-Mitri said.

No.22 Kent State will take on No. 5 Louisiana State, No. 8 Oregon State, No. 17 Ohio State, No. 24 Kentucky and No. 26 Michigan State at the St. John Arena.

Head coach Brice Biggin said even though they are ahead of Kentucky and Michigan State in the national rankings they cannot take the teams lightly.

“Even though we are ahead of them, we are kind of like David and Goliath,” Biggin said. “They are in big conferences, and we’re not.”

Kent State won the MAC Championship during spring break with a close score of 194.500 to Central Michigan’s 194.350. A low score of 47.600 on beam made the last event for the Flashes, floor, the deciding factor in the championships.

The floor team took second place overall in the event with a score of 49.025, helping Kent State to win the championship.

Junior Lydia Barrett and senior Laci Hendress finished in a four-way tie for first place with Central Michigan junior Katie Simon and freshman Kristin Teubner on floor with a score of 9.850.

Kent State’s struggles on beam have been present throughout the season. However, the team hoped it had finally overcome the problem. Since championships, the team has been working hard to improve on beam with more pressure sets and routines.

“What we’re hoping from them is that they realize that was one meet and that it is done and over with,” Biggin said. “That we need to be able to go forward and go on to this meet.”

The gymnasts are excited to prove themselves to the top schools after receiving last place at regionals last season.

“We kind of blew it last year,” sophomore Christina Lenny said. “Just to even go out there and do better and prove to the other teams that we can handle it would be better.”

Ohio State, who has a hometown advantage, took fifth place at the Big Ten Championship in Champaign, Ill. with a score of 195.900, while Michigan State came in sixth with a score of 195.650.

Louisiana State also struggled on beam, taking fourth place at the Southeastern Conference with a score of 196.550, while Kentucky took seventh with a score of 195.000.

Oregon State took second place at the PAC-10 Championship with a score of 196.550.

Even though it would be difficult for the gymnastics team to take first at regionals, Kent State coaches said they know the gymnasts are capable of placing somewhere in the top four.

“We know as a coaching staff that our team is very talented and have the ability to go out there and perform with anyone in the county,” Biggin said. “But they have to believe that themselves.”

The Flashes would be excited to come home with a third place finish and for the opportunity to compete with the top teams in the nation, even if it is a little nerve racking.

“Being with other big teams we tend to wonder and get nervous that you might not be as good as them,” Abou-Mitri said. “But if we focus on ourselves and do the routines we know how to do then we’ll be fine.”

Contact gymnastics reporter Pamela Crimbchin at [email protected].