Gymnastics pretty in pink

Marcus Barkley

Team defeats Bowling Green to remain perfect at home and in the MAC

Credit: DKS Editors

Bowling Green University could not completely spoil the weekend for Kent State, as the gymnastics team (9-3) was able to defeat the Falcons (7-5) Friday night in the M.A.C. Center to remain a perfect 5-0 at home this year.

After two shaky weekends away from home that amounted to a 2-2 road-trip, the team came together for the “Flip for a Cure” event and came away with a 194.825-188.475 in front of large crowd, most of them donning pink T-shirts in support of the breast cancer research.

Coach Brice Biggin said he was happy with his team’s ability to come back home and defeat a tough conference foe.

“We’re very pleased with how we performed,” Biggin said. “We were a little shaky in spots (but) I think we had a lot of people do a very nice job.”

The only complaint Biggin had was the judging, which seemed to be a consistent problem throughout the meet for both teams, especially on the beam.

“I was disappointed for our kids”, Biggin said. “When you go out there and do a good job, you want to see them be rewarded for that. I just wish the judges would sometimes understand that they affect the whole team when they affect our score.”

Bowling Green coach Kerrie Beach said that she was also disappointed with the judges at the meet.

“I thought the officiating was absolutely horrible on balance beam and a little rough in other areas,” Beach said. “Like I told my athletes, we can’t control the officials, we can only control what we do.

A challenge is filed when a coach wants to challenge either the scoring of the two judges together or individually, or when the team wants to challenge the degree of difficulty set before the routine begins. In a normal gymnastics competition, it is normal to see no complaints filed against the judges of an event, with one or two happening here and there.

At Friday’s meet, a total of 8 challenges were requested by Kent State, one on the floor, 3 on the vault and a staggering 4 on the beam, a number that tells a story itself since only 6 people even performed in the event on Friday.

The Flashes got an early lead after the first round of events and never looked back. The team went on to record its second four-event sweep in a row. The meet began on vault and the squad posted one of the highest team scores of the year with a 48.8.

Sophomore Brittany Kopp tied her season-best mark of 9.8 to share a first-place victory with freshman Christina Lenny, who has now placed first in six out of eight meets this year in the vault. Sophomore Lydia Barrett and freshman Christine Abou-Mitri tied for third in the event.

Lenny said that after going two meets in a row without a victory she was happy to go out there and do well for her team.

“I was just focused on going out there and doing well for my team,” Lenny said. “It feels good to go out there and do well, especially in front of these big crowds.”

On the uneven bars, the Falcons struggled, with sophomore Morgan Balzer falling from high distance after missing the top bar on a transition. Another slight fall on a dismount cost Bowling Green again, giving them a team score of 46.375 after one event.

After that slip-up, the Falcons could not be revived, with falls and stumbles on the other three events costing the team dearly. Sophomore Breanne Guy was the Falcons top performer and the only one to place in the meet, scoring a tie for first in beam and a tie for third in vault.

Following the first event, the Flashes went on to post high scores on the bars and the beam, with senior leader Kristin Peters winning both events, adding two more victories to her already impressive repertoire this season.

Biggin said he was impressed again by Peters’ performance but knows that it is almost commonplace for her to succeed week after week.

“She’s just a competitor, a tough kid,” Biggin said. “She understands how to go out there and get the job done.”

Other top performances for the Flashes on bars and beam included Jill Kowalski, who placed second in bars with a season high 9.825 and tied for third on beam. Senior Amy Presan had a second-place finish on beam and juniors Laci Hendress and Stacey Kalberg tied for third on bars.

With three event wins and a victory basically locked up, the gymnasts still saved their best for last on the floor. The team posted a 49.175 in the event, which tied the event high score for the year that was placed on beam against George Washington.

Biggin said he was very impressed by the floor team’s performance.

“(The floor routine) at the end was phenomenal,” Biggin said. “I told the girls that’s the attitude that I’d like to see them have the entire meet because they really stepped up on floor.”

Leading the charge was junior Rachel Stuck, who scored a 9.9, demolishing her career best and the season high of 9.875. All of the girls that performed on the floor routine scored above a 9.750, a mark that had not been seen this season event. Laci Hendress placed second with a score of 9.875, the previous season high and her season best, and Lydia Barrett placed third with a score of 9.825, topping her season high.

Biggin said that his team will appreciate the victory against Bowling Green and then prepare hard for Friday’s contest.

“We need to go out there and win that meet,” Biggin said. “I know we’re the best team on paper, but we got to show up- and we got to show up big time.”

Contact gymnastics reporter Marcus Barkley at [email protected].