Seniors prepare for ‘bittersweet’ finale

Pamela Crimbchin

Gymnastics team hopes to seal MAC title with victory over WMU

Seniors Rachel Stuck, Amanda St. John, Amy Wroblewski, Laci Hendress and Stacey Kalberg show off the outfits they wore their freshman year. The five seniors are preparing for their final home meet this Sunday against Western Michigan. Daniel R. Doherty |

Credit: DKS Editors

The five seniors of the Kent State gymnastics team are facing mixed emotions as they prepare for Sunday’s meet against Western Michigan, the last home meet of their college careers.

“It’s bittersweet knowing that you’re leaving something that you’re used to and you’ve had so much fun with,” senior Laci Hendress said. “But at the same time you’re going on to bigger and better things.”

Hendress and fellow seniors Rachel Stuck, Stacey Kalberg, Amanda St. John and Amy Wroblewski will be honored before the meet against the Broncos, which will begin at 1 p.m.

Stuck and Hendress are roommates and talk every day about how their four years of gymnastics have gone by so quickly.

“We have less than a month left of gymnastics for the rest of our lives,” Stuck said.

Stuck started her career with Kent State performing on floor but added vault to her events during her sophomore year. She won the Mid-American Conference championship in 2008 on floor with a score of 9.900.

“(Leaving is) overwhelming, but at the same time we know we are going to do good,” Stuck said. “We know we are going to go out with a bang.”

Hendress also started with the Flashes on floor but was quick to add two more events, bars and beam, during her sophomore year. Hendress tied for second place on beam in the MAC 2008 championships with a score of 9.825.

Hendress and Stuck are tied for the highest score on floor in the MAC this season, both earning a 9.925 in last weekend’s Eagle Invite in Ypsilanti, Mich.

“I’ve done gymnastics for 19 years of my life,” Hendress said. “It’s going to be really hard adjusting to my new life without teammates, without gymnastics, without your everyday set schedule of gymnastics.”

Kalberg began on vault her freshman year with the Flashes, adding bars and beam her sophomore year. Kalberg performs on bars this year and is tied for the third-highest score on bars in the MAC.

“It sucks because it is your last meet, but you’re kind of excited because it’s the end of the season, so you can move on and start a new life in a way,” Kalberg said.

St. John started performing on vault for the Flashes but switched to floor. St. John is tied for third-highest score on floor in the MAC after scoring a 9.875 in last weekend’s meet.

Wroblewski has competed in exhibitions for the Flashes during her four-year career and will compete against Western Michigan.

The seniors said they will miss the team, the coaches and “everything.”

“We come into the gym, and we work through thick and thin,” Hendress said. “No matter if you are having a bad day or a good day someone’s always going to lift you up.”

As a team, Kent State (10-5, 4-0 MAC) has moved up to No. 22 in national rankings thanks to last weekend’s third-place win in the Eastern Michigan Eagle Invite. By beating Western Michigan (3-11, 0-5) Sunday, Kent State would win its fourth-straight MAC regular-season championship.

But even with a title on the line, the Flashes want to win more for their seniors than for a championship.

“The focus isn’t on Western Michigan,” Biggin said. “The focus is on, this is our last meet for our seniors. We are really focused on trying to send our seniors out the right way.”

Contact sports reporter Pamela Crimbchin at [email protected].