Gymnasts look to send message against Ball State

Marcus Barkley

The Kent State gymnastics team looks to use its narrow victory against Northern Illinois as a learning experience for the upcoming meet against Ball State Friday night in Muncie, Indiana. The team has been practicing hard to improve on mistakes that nearly cost it in the first conference match.

“We worked quite a bit on trying to make some of those corrections,” coach Brice Biggin said. “The girls had a great attitude all week and it’s a fairly short week for us.”

The Cardinals have struggled this season, with losses to Western Michigan and Illinois State. Biggin is quick to point out that the opposing team’s record does not make the meet any less formidable and his team cannot look to simply stay in stride with Ball State.

“We know they’re struggling right now score wise, but we’re not looking to match up with them,” Biggin said. “We want to go down and make a statement both to the (Mid-American Conference), but also to the rest of the region and nationally.”

Biggin will likely use two strong freshmen against Cardinals, Christina Lenny and Christine Abou-Mitri, who have already made an impact for the Flashes.

“When we recruited both Christina and Christine, we knew what kind of potential talent they had,” Biggin said. “In gymnastics, you really expect your freshmen to come in and be able to hopefully have an impact on the meet; right now, they’re giving us that impact.”

The Lenny and Abou-Mitri’s relationship goes back further than the first time they suited up for the Flashes. Both were gymnasts at Brecksville-Broadview Heights, a high school gymnastics powerhouse in Northeast Ohio. This relationship helped both become familiar with the team

“It’s really nice because you’re familiar with the person,” Abou-Mitri said. “We have a special bond through all those years and we’re continuing to be with each other. It’s a very positive thing because we feed off of each other.”

Lenny was named the MAC Specialist of the Week, an honor she did not find out about until her father told her on the phone.

“I wasn’t really expecting it,” Lenny said. “It was a surprise and it was really exciting for me, being a freshman.”

With both of his star freshmen, as well as the ever-present leadership of senior Jill Kowalski, who was named Kent State athlete of the week Monday, Biggin and his squad head to Ball State on Friday at 7 p.m. and have a strong showing in the team’s second conference match. The team, ranked 23rd in the NCAA Gymnastics Top 25, also looks to solidify its ranking and continue to move up and prove that Kent State belongs with the sport’s elite programs.

“Certainly our goal is to send a message that we are a team that we want other people to really sit up and take notice of,” Biggin said.

Contact Gymnastics reporter Marcus Barkley at [email protected].