Senior leaders, freshmen prep team for title

Marcus Barkley

After winning the MAC last week, sights set on Louisiana

After the thrilling victory and the tears of exuberance had been wiped from cheeks of both gymnasts and those closest to them; it was back to work for the Kent State gymnastics team this week.

But coach Brice Biggin said it has not been easy to get back into the swing of things at practice.

“Well, this week hasn’t been actually our best week of practice,” Biggin said. “A lot of kids have been sick this week and the practices just haven’t gone the way we would hope they would be going.”

Biggin said it has been hard to come down from the high of winning the conference championship at home in front of a packed house.

That aside, he said the team does not look to make excuses and he expects them to be ready to compete in a regional meet where, instead of being favorites, they are close to the bottom, looking up for their shot.

“You come off of such a high — there’s no better feeling than winning the Mid-American Conference Championship, but you have to get back to business,” Biggin said. “We enjoy the moment, but we’ve got work yet to do — we have to go down there and represent ourselves and the university, as well as the whole MAC conference.”

Senior leadership has been a big part of this year’s success. Biggin said he expects his seniors to right the ship before the meet Saturday in Baton Rouge, La.

“We’ve depended on our seniors all season long and they’ve obviously done a great job,” Biggin said. “We’ve had the seniors pull everyone over yesterday and have a talk and get on them pretty hard about how the seasons not over yet.”

On the other hand, the freshmen on the team said the seniors have been guiding figures throughout their first season.

“I think the seniors did a lot to lead us this year,” freshman Felice Feugill said. “They really set the pace for us and showed what it takes to win a championship, so hopefully we can look back at what they did this year and can continue to lead as the seniors did in years to come.”

There are seven freshmen on the roster this season. Though most of them haven’t competed because of the squad’s stacked roster, Christina Lenny, Christine Abou-Mitri and Feugill have all been able to step in and be important cogs on the team.

Biggin said the freshmen, even the ones who have not competed, have been an important part of the team’s success — both on the mats and cheering from the sidelines.

“They’ve worked hard and I know it has been with a whip and crack sometimes,” Biggin said. “You do that to athletes that you feel are capable of handling it — make them understand that with success comes pressure.”

The freshmen said they are ready to make the trip to Louisiana and do their part to support the team as they take their performance to the next level and showcase their talent on a more national stage.

“If we go out and compete like we normally do, we’ll definitely make a statement and show the country we’re not just regular old Kent State in the little M.A.C. (Center),” Abou-Mitri said. “We’ll make a name for ourselves and have more respect shown towards our school and our program for years to come.”

Contact gymnastics reporter Marcus Barkley at [email protected].