Flashes find four-leaf clover

Doug Gulasy

It was only fitting that on St. Patrick’s Day, the Kent State gymnastics team found its metaphorical pot of gold.

With a 194.125-192.925 road victory against the Eastern Michigan Eagles, the Flashes (10-3 overall, 5-1 Mid-American Conference)clinched at least a share of the MAC regular-season championship.

“The girls should be very proud of themselves,” coach Brice Biggin said. “They worked extremely hard to get to this point.”

Junior tri-captain Kristin Peters led the way Saturday with two first-place finishes, but the win was the result of a team effort. Two other gymnasts won first place on events, and a total of six Kent State gymnasts had top-five finishes.

Junior tri-captain Jill Kowalski finished second in the all-around, marking just the second MAC meet this season that she hasn’t finished first.

The Flashes began the meet on bars and jumped out to an early lead as Peters captured her first event victory of the afternoon. Senior tri-captain Julie Huynh tied for second place and sophomore Laci Hendress tied for fifth.

From there, the team moved to vault and relinquished its early lead. No Kent State gymnast scored higher than a 9.650 and none finished better than seventh on the event.

The Flashes were trailing as they headed to their third event, the floor exercise. However, things quickly turned around as the Flashes put up a strong performance. Huynh and senior Amy Cucinotta tied for first place on the event and freshman Lydia Barrett tied for fourth.

Meanwhile, Eastern Michigan was struggling with its third event of the afternoon, the balance beam, allowing the Flashes to reclaim the lead.

The Flashes needed a strong performance on their fourth event – the balance beam – to clinch the victory, and they got it.

Peters, again, won first place, Kowalski tied for second and Hendress tied for fourth, sewing up the win.

“Being away from home, which we haven’t been in about a month, and knowing that the last event you have to do is the beam, it’s important to go out and handle the pressure,” Biggin said. “I think we did that very well.”

MAC competition is over for the Flashes until the MAC Championships on March 31, but they will travel to Bowling Green next Saturday to take on the Falcons and Ohio State in the All-Ohio Meet.

Contact gymnastics reporter Doug Gulasy at [email protected]