Stumbles on beam make weekend less than sweet

Marcus Barkley

Gymnastics struggles against nationally ranked teams in N.C.

The Kent State gymnastics team’s five-meet win streak came to an end Saturday night at the Sweetheart Invitational, as the gymnasts placed third in Raleigh, N.C.

The final scores for the teams were: N.C. State 195.150, Penn State 194.775, Kent State 194.025 and William & Mary 189.625.

Coach Brice Biggin said he was disappointed with the end result of Saturday’s contest.

“Overall, we weren’t satisfied as a team, and we know that we’re better than that,” Biggin said. “We had a chance to beat Penn State and even a chance to beat (N.C. State), but we just didn’t capitalize on our chances.”

Though the third-place finish was a disappointment for the coaches and players, things could have gone a lot worse. A bleak start on beam to open the competition, with three out of six girls falling, nearly sealed the team’s fate from the beginning.

“Everyone knows that beam is a tough event,” Biggin said. “It’s all a matter of mindset – as an athlete, you have to find the right frame of mind for beam.”

The mindset of the gymnasts seemed to be one of the biggest problems at the meet. Biggin blamed, in part, the lack of focus from the girls for the third-place showing.

“(The team) didn’t look completely focused going into this meet for whatever reason,” he said. “When you come in not ready to compete, bad things happen like it did to them today.”

Even with the setback on beam and lack of mental focus that Biggin mentioned, the girls still managed to fight on and place well in their last three events to pull within striking distance of the N.C. State and Penn State.

“We did a good job of bouncing back after beam,” Biggin said. “They did a nice job on floor, a nice job on vault and a great job on bars. Unfortunately, when you have troubles on your first event, you still have to count that event.”

The performance on the uneven bars, the final event of the night, was a large factor in the Flashes final score. After failing to win the event for a meet sweep last week against George Washington, the bars team came out and posted a season-high mark of 49.025 and captured the only event win of the day for the Flashes.

Assistant coach Kurt Hettinger, who is the team’s specialist on bars, spoke of his pride with the girl’s performance in the event on Saturday.

“So far this year, these girls have done an excellent job on bars,” Hettinger said. “It was the last event, and I told the kids they needed to do a good job on bars and they did.”

Leading the bars team and the Flashes on Saturday was senior Kristin Peters. On a day when it seemed that nothing could go right or stay consistent, Peters did both. She won the bars with a score 9.875, and lead her team on beam and tied for the team lead on vault. Hettinger was impressed with Peter’s performance but said he has come to expect it from her.

“It’s like I mentioned last week, I can’t say enough good things about Kristin Peters,” Hettinger said. “She does a great job in the gym and competes hard and proved it Saturday with another great bar routine.”

Besides the mishaps on beam, the Flashes also faced two tough opponents in Penn State and N.C. State, who are ranked 18th and 24th.

“N.C. State and Penn are extremely good teams,” Hettinger said. “You just can’t mess up against good teams like that and expect to win.”

Kent State’s focus must now turn to conference rival Central Michigan (2-8). The Flashes travel to Central Michigan on Saturday night.

“This week is over and now we need to focus on Central (Michigan),” Hettinger said. “They really haven’t hit a meet yet, but they always get up for us, so we need to be up on our game.”

Contact gymnastics reporter Marcus Barkley at [email protected].