Gymnastics wins second straight MAC title

Pamela Crimbchin

Kent State’s gymnastics team didn’t let a low score in beam stop it from winning the Mid-American Conference championship for the second straight year in a row Saturday in Muncie, Ind.

“It was a lot closer than we were hoping it was going to be,” Kent State coach Brice Biggin said. “But every win is special, and these girls certainly went out and deserved what they got today and did a great job.”

The Flashes won with a score of 194.500 points, edging Central Michigan’s score of 194.375.

Northern Illinois took third with a score of 192.700 followed by Bowling Green with 192.425. Eastern Michigan and Ball State tied for fifth with a score of 191.675, and Western Michigan came in seventh at 190.075.

“The biggest thing I’m proud of for the whole team,” senior Rachel Stuck said, “is that we did (it). We proved that we could do it two times in a row.”

The gymnasts went to the meet with confidence after winning last weekend’s meet against Western Michigan with a season-high score of 196.750. That win gave them an undefeated MAC record for the second straight year.

Kent State held a strong lead going into the third rotation, but the lead and the team’s confidence took a hit after three of the strongest gymnasts, junior Carly Conroy and sophomores Christina Lenny and Christine Abou-Mitri, fell during their beam routines.

“That almost cost us the championship right there,” Biggin said. “We had a nice lead going into beam, and we gave up almost all of it.”

Two gymnasts, freshman Kristina Arcury and junior Brittany Kopp, did well enough on beam to tie for fifth place at 9.725.

The floor team, a steady event for Kent State, scored enough points to make up for the team’s low score on beam. The Flashes took second place overall on floor, scoring 49.025 points to seal the win.

“Every one of the girls did a great job,” Biggin said.

Junior Lydia Barrett and senior Laci Hendress tied with Central Michigan junior Katie Simon and freshman Kristin Teubner for first with a score of 9.850.

“I was a little bit surprised because the competition was really tough,” Barrett said. “There was a lot of good routines out there from a lot of different teams.”

Stuck tied for fifth on floor with a score of 9.825, even after an infected thumb sent her to the hospital late Wednesday night.

“We weren’t sure whether she was going to be able to compete the whole week,” Biggin said. “So it was tight, but she did a phenomenal job staying focused and did a great (floor) routine for us.”

The Flashes took first place overall on bars with a score of 48.800. Barrett tied for third with a score of 9.800 with Northern Illinois sophomore Holly Reichard, while senior Stacey Kalberg tied for fifth at 9.775.

Lenny took second place on vault with a score of 9.925, helping Kent State take second overall on vault with a score of 49.075.

Close call or not, the Kent State coaches and gymnasts said they are happy with the meet and winning another MAC championship.

“Anytime you when a championship it’s such a special thing and it is very difficult to repeat,” Biggin said. “We’re just so happy that these kids were able to do that.”

Contact sports reporter Pamela Crimbchin at [email protected].