Gymnasts end Colonial period before it begins

Doug Gulasy

A group of seniors rejoice after their victory Friday night. The Flashes defeated the George Washington Colonials with a total score of 194.575. TARA RAFTOVICH | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Jason Hall

Popular legend says that George Washington chopped down his father’s cherry tree, but most historians doubt it happened.

There is no doubt, however, that the Kent State gymnastics squad chopped down the team named after America’s first president.

The 25th-ranked Flashes defeated the Colonials 194.575-193.750 Friday night to move to 9-3 on the season.

“I think the team worked very well together, especially after being off for a week,” coach Brice Biggin said.

The meet was the first for Kent State since the team lost to Central Michigan two weeks ago.

“Breaks in the middle of the season are sometimes tough, but we were able to come back with the same intensity and shake the rust off and didn’t count any falls against us,” Biggin said.

Junior tri-captains Kristin Peters and Jill Kowalski again played pivotal roles in the team’s victory. Peters won two first-place titles, and Kowalski won the all-around award.

However, the victory was a team effort, as a total of seven gymnasts finished in the top five places on various events.

“Obviously, Kristin Peters and Jill Kowalski are two girls that we count on for good performances meet after meet,” Biggin said. “But one thing we’ve learned is that one or two people don’t make a team; for us to win, we’ve got to have everybody step up, and I think that certainly happened.”

The team began the meet on the vault and grabbed an early lead.

Peters and sophomore Stacey Kalberg tied for first place. Freshman Lydia Barrett came in fourth in the event.

From there, the Flashes went to bars, an event they struggled with in the two meets prior to Friday’s. That wasn’t the case in this meet, however, as the team widened its early lead. Peters won the event, Kowalski came in second, Kalberg finished third and senior tri-captain Julie Huynh took home fifth place on senior night.

“I think it was important we did the first couple routines well, because in gymnastics it’s important to have good routines to build on,” Biggin said.

The third event for the Flashes was the balance beam. Senior Amy Cucinotta celebrated senior night by tying for first place, and sophomore Laci Hendress tied for third as the team maintained its lead through three events.

The Flashes capped off their victory with a strong performance on the floor exercise. Barrett and Hendress tied for first, Cucinotta came in third place and Kowalski tied for fifth.

Next up for the Flashes is their final Mid-American Conference meet of the season, as they travel to face Eastern Michigan March 17. A victory would grant the team at least a share of the MAC regular season crown.

“Right now, it looks like just about the most important meet of the season,” Biggin said.

Contact gymnastics reporter Doug Gulasy at [email protected].