Perfect at the M.A.C.

Marcus Barkley

Win secures perfect home record, regular season conference title

Senior Kristin Peters performs on the uneven bars during Kent’s match with Eastern Michigan Friday at the M.A.C. The Flashes defeated Eastern Michigan 195.750 to 192.650 to clinch the MAC regular season title. David Alan Foster | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: Ron Soltys

The madness of March was not lost in the M.A.C. Center Friday as the Kent State gymnastics team (11-3) secured the regular-season conference title against Eastern Michigan (11-5) on senior night.

The 195.750-192.650 victory also capped a perfect 6-0 record in the conference and a 6-0 record at home.

Coach Brice Biggin said he couldn’t have been happier with the level of performance that was displayed by his team in the final match of the regular season.

“We didn’t want to give (Eastern Michigan) the opportunity to think they stood a chance to win tonight,” Biggin said. “So we made a statement in the first event and followed through all four events, and it was great doing that.”

Eastern Michigan coach Steve Wilce said he was impressed by the level of competition he saw from the Flashes.

“From what I saw, they looked very good,” Wilce said. “They were very on tonight. They lived up to their billing so far.”

The Flashes were paced by senior Jill Kowalski, who scored first-place finishes in both the bars and the beam.

Kowalski said that she was proud of her performance and even more pleased with how her team performed together to finish out the regular season.

“I’m so excited that the team did so well tonight,” Kowalski said. “It was a great way to end the regular season, and it helps us be that much more confident going into (the MAC Championships).”

Biggin said he was proud of Kowalski’s performance and feels that she never truly gets enough credit for the work she puts in.

“To me, it’s very gratifying because (Kowalski) is such an underrated gymnast for us,” Biggin said. “She’s a kid that we depend on tremendously, and I can’t say enough about what kind of competitor and team player she is.”

Along with Kowalski’s performance, junior Rachel Stuck also stood out at Friday’s meet, capturing a victory in the floor routine with a 9.9 that tied both her personal-and season-best score.

Stuck said the secret to her success on the floor is just letting loose and trying to enjoy the experience.

“The only way I do it is to have fun with it,” Stuck said. “If I think too hard, I do too much. So I’m really happy with my routine tonight.”

Freshman Christina Lenny earned a first-place finish on vault to secure another meet sweep for the Flashes. Lenny has now won the vault event in eight out of 10 meets.

Junior Duyen Zu Vuong led Eastern Michigan by winning the all-around title at the meet with a total score of 38.775.

Up next for the Flashes is the MAC Championship, March 29 at the M.A.C. Center. Last year the team captured the regular-season title but was unable to take home the championship after coming in second to Eastern Michigan.

Biggin said he feels this year’s team is ready to avenge last year’s second-place finish and capture the sixth conference title in 14 years for the Flashes.

“We’ve said all year long that we need to go out there and deliver a statement for the teams (in the conference),” Biggin said. “If we’re on, we’re going to be almost impossible to beat, especially at home.”

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