Consistency affects performance

Doug Gulasy

It’s nearly impossible to be perfect in gymnastics. Kent State gymnastics coach Brice Biggin likely would have settled for a steady performance from his team in its first meet of the season.

The Kent State gymnastics team placed second with a score of 192.175 in a three-team meet Friday. The Flashes beat University of Pittsburgh (190.450) but lost to Penn State (194.050) at Fitzgerald Field House in Pittsburgh.

“We just never got consistent all day,” Biggin said. “We started off, and we hit our first beam routine, then we fall on our second one. We hit our third, and then we fall on our fourth one. It felt like we never got started.”

Early falls on the balance beam and the floor exercise, the team’s first two events, hurt the Flashes. The resulting scores put them behind Penn State early.

“I think a lot of nerves took over,” sophomore Brittany Kopp said. “People tried doing extra things that they don’t usually do in practice. They didn’t trust what they know how to do — they tried to do too much.”

Strong scores on the final two events, vault and uneven bars, were not enough to push the Flashes over the Nittany Lions.

Still, Biggin said he was “certainly pleased” to see the way the team performed in those events, as well as the latter stages of the floor exercise.

“We focused on, ‘We don’t have anything to lose,’ so we had to go out and give it everything we had (in the last two events),” Kopp said. “The scoring wasn’t the best, but we didn’t let it get to us; we just kept hitting routines.”

Several Flashes gymnasts placed within the top three of events.

Senior Jill Kowalski won the balance beam competition with a score of 9.800, senior Kristin Peters finished second on the uneven bars and Kopp and freshman Christina Lenny tied for first on vault with scores of 9.800.

Biggin said that while the team doesn’t talk about individuals much, he thought both Kopp and Lenny performed well.

“Brittany Kopp, for us, had a phenomenal meet,” Biggin said. “She went out and (it was the) first time she’s actually competed beam for us, and she’s worked very hard. She did the exact same routine she’s been doing in practice the entire semester. (She) did a phenomenal vault. She had the meet that she’s certainly capable of, but probably a better meet than what we were expecting from her. So she did a good job.

“Christina Lenny, obviously, first time out on vault-won vault, and certainly we knew she was capable of that. Yet she should be in there on a couple other events, and she knows that too.”

Biggin said he was a little bit disappointed with the performance of some of his upperclassmen in the meet.

“We had a senior who both fell on beam and had a major breakdown on bars,” Biggin said. “You can’t have them do that if we’re going to be the team that we think we are.”

The Flashes (1-1) will play their first Mid-American Conference meet of the season when they host Northern Illinois at 1 p.m. Sunday in the M.A.C. Center.

Contact sports reporter Doug Gulasy at [email protected].