Gymnasts look for late Valentine at Sweetheart Invitational

Marcus Barkley

The Kent State gymnastics team (6-1) looks to beat the latest case of the winter blues with a trip to Raleigh, N.C.

The sunshine does not look to deter the Flashes from their goal- a sixth straight victory.

“The girls are really looking forward to this meet,” assistant coach Kurt Hettinger said. “We really like the opportunity to go against teams in the A(tlantic) C(oast) C(onference) and the Big Ten, it gives us a little extra incentive and a little more momentum going into this weekend.”

The 25th nationally ranked Flashes will be competing in the Sweetheart Invitational tomorrow night against William and Mary, event host N.C. State and Penn State. Penn State handed the team its only loss of the season at Pittsburgh in the first event of the year.

“We are hungry (to face Penn State again),” junior Amanda St. John said. “We definitely cannot fear these teams at all, we are at their level, we could be above their level, we might as well show it.”

The team is coming off of its most impressive win of the season against George Washington at home last Friday. In the event, the team scored season best marks in the vault, beam and floor routine. The victory moved the Flashes record against non-conference opponents to 2-1 on the season. Junior Rachel Stuck feels that a victory like the one achieved against George Washington is an important stepping stone going into the Flashes most difficult challenge this season.

“Two weekends in a row, we got two of our highest scores of the whole season, it’s really boosting our confidence,” Stuck said. “It’s further setting us up for a bigger meet and letting us knowing we can do well at bigger meets with more than one team.”

18th-ranked Penn State (5-3) is coming off a strong performance last Saturday, where the Nittany Lions finished first in a four team meet against Yale, New Hampshire and a William and Mary squad that will also be competing on Saturday. Penn State had all of its success in meets with multiple teams. The Nittany Lions are 5-0 in the two multi-team competitions and 0-3 against single teams.

Host team N.C State (6-5) is coming off consecutive hard losses against 21st ranked North Carolina and No. 1 ranked Georgia. Though the team’s records may not seem impressive, the Wolfpack has faced five teams ranked in the top 25 and continue to hold the 24th spot in the national rankings, one spot behind Kent State.

The meet on Saturday will be the first quad meet for the Flashes this season. The team has had two multi-team meets this season, with a record of 4-1 to show for it. In the first meet of the season, the Flashes beat host squad Pittsburgh, but were defeated by Penn State. In the All-Ohio, the other multi-team affair, the Flashes defeated both Ohio State and Bowling Green.

“(This quad meet) is really good preparation for MAC Championships,” Hettinger said. “This weekend will only make us a stronger team overall.”

Hettinger and the rest of the coaching crew, as well as the team, are also ready for chance to spend some time in weather above 0 degrees Celsius.

“We’re definitely looking forward to (the weather),” Hettinger said. “Brice and I have our golf clubs, so if we can find a free minute and get out, we’re going to.”

Contact Gymnastics reporter Marcus Barkley at [email protected].