Gymnasts end long road trip

Doug Gulasy

The last time the Kent State gymnastics team hosted a meet, Kent State students had just completed the first week of classes, the AFC and NFC Championship games had yet to be played and the Kent State men’s basketball team had just fallen to 9-8.

The date of that meet was Jan. 19, and the Flashes disposed of the Ball State Cardinals to move to 2-0 overall and 2-0 in the Mid-American Conference.

After four straight weeks on the road, the team is 7-2, 4-0 in the MAC, but the Flashes are glad to finally be back at home.

“It’s rough going out for four away meets in a row, so it’s really great for us to have these two meets at home this weekend,” junior Amy Presan said.

Two important meets are on the slate: a non-conference tilt with Pittsburgh 7 p.m. today and Central Michigan 1 p.m. Sunday.

Pittsburgh (6-4) is coming off a loss to Ohio State, but coach Brice Biggin said the Panthers are a formidable opponent.

“Pittsburgh’s been a good team for a long time,” Biggin said. “We need to stay making routines the way we know we can.

“You need to be good outside the MAC, so it’s extremely important to go out there and be successful against good out-of-conference teams like Pittsburgh,” he said.

Central Michigan is also coming off a loss, dropping its last meet to Western Michigan, 192.600-190.350, a loss Biggin said would probably motivate the Chippewas.

“Central is a very dangerous team, and I know they can’t be happy about their loss to Western Michigan,” Biggin said. “Teams are always dangerous coming off a loss.”

The Flashes hope to counter Central Michigan’s motivation with some of their own. Central Michigan is tied for second in the MAC with a 2-1 conference record (7-5 overall), and the first-place Flashes hope to win to keep ahead of the Chippewas.

“Our rivalry is with Central, so that meet is important for us,” Presan said. “We want to be 5-0 in the MAC.”

Biggin stressed the importance of a strong start in both meets. The Flashes will begin both meets on the vault, and Biggin said strong scores there will put pressure on the opponents.

“From vault, we move to bars, which we’ve been hitting very well all season, so if we do well on those two events, we can make it difficult for them to come back,” he said.

Biggin said it was important for the team to score highly on all four events. In the victory at Bowling Green, the Flashes struggled on the floor, which had been one of the team’s best events.

“We can’t take events off this weekend,” he said. “We got lucky against Bowling Green because we hit our other events so well, but that kind of luck doesn’t hold out forever.”

Presan echoed his sentiments, saying the team would need all six gymnasts to score well in each event and not have falls.

“As long as we do what we know how to do, we should be fine,” she said. “If we score around a 194 or a 195 and have a lot of confidence going into the meets, we should be able to win.”

Contact gymnastics reporter Doug Gulasy at [email protected].