Gymnastics team defeats NIU to take over first place

Pamela Crimbchin

Coach says women still not performing to their full potential after win

The Kent State gymnastics team won the leading spot in the Mid-American Conference yesterday, but Kent State coach Brice Biggin is still unhappy with the way the team is scoring.

The Flashes (8-3, 4-0 MAC) defeated Northern Illinois 194.200-193.750 yesterday in DeKalb, Ill., in a competition between the only remaining undefeated teams in the MAC.

“We worked really good as a team,” senior Laci Hendress said. “Even though the scores weren’t on our side, we stayed focused and we knew that we could do the routines that we always do in practice.”

Last weekend, the Flashes earned a season-high score of 196.150 against Central Michigan and Maryland. The team tried to keep its high scoring trend this weekend, but Kent State had more difficulty than intended.

Kent State started on bars, earning a 48.125. Senior Stacey Kalberg received third place overall with a score of 9.675, with Northern Illinois sophomore Holly Reichard and junior Natalie Blum taking first and second respectively.

“I was very happy because the scores after bars were really bad, and they could have tanked the rest meet then,” Biggin said. “But they stayed focused and they stayed working together as a team.”

Part of the low scoring on bars for both Kent State and Northern Illinois was because of the judging, Biggin said.

“I was not real happy with some of the judging on some of the events,” he said. “But we gave them opportunities to take some deduction, and they took plenty of them.”

The Flashes had a better set on vault during the second rotation, with a score of 49.075. Junior Brittany Kopp took first with a score of 9.875, with junior Lydia Barrett and sophomore Christina Lenny tying for second with a score of 9.825.

“Our vault team went out and did a great job today,” Biggin said. “Brittany had a phenomenal vault today.”

Kent State also had a good session on floor, with Hendress taking first overall with a score of 9.800. However, Northern Illinois won the event, with a final score of 48.725 to Kent State’s 48.700.

The gymnasts thought they had moved past this season’s beam problems in their last meet against Central Michigan and Maryland, but when it came time for the final rotation, Kent State only scored 48.300 points to Northern Illinois’ 48.775.

“We’ve made such improvements, (but) there was really only two kids that really went up there and did routines,” Biggin said. “The other four held back and looked like they were nervous and scored like they were nervous.”

Biggin was filled with mixed emotions after yesterday’s meet. He was excited to take the leading position in the MAC but disappointed in his team’s inability to perform to its full potential.

“We hit 24 out of 24 routines again, but we didn’t really hit 24 out of 24 routines,” Biggin said. “We stayed on and we made good routines, but it wasn’t like we competed last weekend.”

The gymnastics team will try to raise their overall scores when it takes on Southeast Missouri at 7 p.m. Friday at the M.A.C. Center.

Contact sports reporter Pamela Crimbchin at [email protected].