Nomadic gymnasts hope for title

Doug Gulasy

Road win at EMU will guarantee Flashes a share of the MAC title

Sophomore Laci Hendress performs on the beam during a meet against George Washington last Friday at the M.A.C. Center. TARA RATTOVICH | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: John Proppe

The last time the Kent State gymnastics team had a chance to clinch a share of the Mid-American Conference regular-season title, Central Michigan came into the M.A.C. Center and ruined the party.

This weekend, the Flashes (9-3 overall, 4-1 MAC) will have a second opportunity to clinch at least a share of the MAC regular -season championship, as they travel to Eastern Michigan (10-6, 2-2 MAC) Saturday.

Coach Brice Biggin said he didn’t expect the pressure of clinching to affect his team’s performance.

“We expect the girls to be able to handle pressure, and if they’re going to make it to regionals, they have to learn how to handle pressure,” Biggin said. “We make sure they know what’s at stake every week, but at the same time, we also make sure they understand the meet goes one event at a time, one routine at a time.”

Eastern Michigan is coming off a first-place finish in a four-team meet against Central Michigan, Illinois State and Ball State. Biggin said there was “no doubt” the Eagles would want to continue that success with a victory over the Flashes.

“Obviously, their kids feel good about what they did last weekend, and they’d like to continue that same style of meet when we come up there,” he said.

It has been nearly four weeks since the Flashes’ last road meet – a victory over Bowling Green Feb. 18. However, Biggin said he doesn’t think being on the road will hinder the team’s performance.

“If it does (affect us), then we’re not as good of a team as we think we are, to put it real bluntly and real honestly,” Biggin said. “In this sport, you just can’t make excuses for being on the road if you want to consider yourself a good team.”

Biggin said the key to victory begins with a strong start. The Flashes will begin the meet on the uneven bars.

“(Bars is) normally a great event for us to start on, and usually if we compete the way we’re capable of, we’re going to put a lot of pressure on the other team right away,” he said.

However, Biggin made sure to note that one bad event could hurt the Flashes’ chances of coming out of the meet with a victory.

“To be honest, there’s not an event that’s not important,” he said.

Contact gymnastics reporter Doug Gulasy at [email protected].