Gymnasts end MAC season undefeated for second straight year

Pamela Crimbchin

WATCH video footage from the meet.

VIEW photos from the team’s senior night.

Kent State’s gymnastics team sent off its five seniors with the highest score of the season in yesterday’s home win against Western Michigan.

“It’s almost unreal,” senior Stacey Kalberg said. “We never think that we can get that high, but you can, and it just sends everyone else in the (Mid-American Conference) a message that we’re ready to compete and ready to dominate the MAC.”

With the 196.750-193.025 win on senior day, the Flashes finished with an undefeated conference record for the second straight year.

“We feel blessed with the kids we’ve had on the team,” Kent State coach Brice Biggin said. “They are a very hard-working bunch of athletes.”

The Flashes started the meet with vault, where Kent State junior Lydia Barrett tied for first with a score of 9.850. Junior Brittany Kopp and freshman Rachel Goldenberg tied for second with a score of 9.800, helping Kent State to win vault with a score of 49.000 -48.500.

The Flashes won bars with their highest score of the season, 49.200. Sophomore Christine Abou-Mitri won first place with a score of 9.875, while sophomore Christina Lenny and freshman Erin Rothrock tied for second with a score of 9.850. Kalberg received fifth place with a score of 9.800.

“I’m pretty sad because it’s my last time competing here,” Kalberg said. “But it’s exciting because I felt like I did a pretty good job on bars, and I hit my routine and scored pretty well.”

Kent State excelled on beam, which had previously been giving the team a difficult time. The gymnasts’ score of 49.225 was the highest score of the season in the event. Lenny took home first place with a score of 9.900.

Senior Amanda St. John stole the floor spotlight and ended her home career with a 9.925, one of the highest scores in Kent State history.

“I’m really happy I just hit the routine,” St. John said. “I could care less what the score is, as long as I hit my routine.”

St. John and fellow seniors Kalberg, Laci Hendress, Rachel Stuck and Amy Wroblewski, helped the Flashes to win their fourth consecutive regular-season championship.

“We started the year out a little bit rough, and the seniors had a little bit of the rough start to the year themselves,” Biggin said. “But they have worked so hard and stayed so focused. Every single senior hit every routine they did today.”

The Flashes hope to carry the momentum from the win into next weekend’s MAC championships in Muncie, Ind., where Kent State will attempt to defend its title.

“I expect this team really to go in very relaxed, very confident, knowing that they don’t have to do anything special,” Biggin said. “All they need to do is what they’ve done all week long.”

Contact sports reporter Pamela Crimbchin at [email protected].