Flashes place third in MAC Championship

Amanda Vasil

After a five-meet winning streak to finish out its Mid-American Conference regular season, the Kent State gymnastics team finished third out of seven teams in the MAC Championships with a score of 192.700 points.

Finishing first was tournament host Western Michigan with a composite score of 193.800, followed by Central Michigan, the Flashes’ only MAC loss this season, with 193.175.

Kent State finished first on the floor exercise and uneven bars with scores of 48.950 and 48.350, respectively. The event that cost the team the victory was the balance beam, as it counted two falls in the event score.

“It was disappointing,” Kent State coach Brice Biggin said. “We had to count a full point here. If we would have gone up and done a normal beam set, we would have won. Had we only counted one fall, we would have finished second. It was a meet that we could have and should have won.”

On the bars, sophomore Kristin Peters tied Western Michigan’s Courtney Schmid for second place with 9.750. Peters finished the season No. 1 in the MAC with a regional qualifying score of 9.815. She will be competing in the regional competition as a specialist on the bars this weekend in Baton Rouge, La.

Senior Carrie Mayle, who has been suffering back injuries for the past three weeks, performed in the all-around competition for the first time since March 3. After performing an adjusted routine on the floor exercise, she grabbed the first-place title with a score of 9.850.

Mayle also finished in a three-way tie on the vault for second place scoring 9.850 but fell on the balance beam to score a 9.050.

“There are a lot of mixed emotions,” Biggin said. “She did a phenomenal job and really gutted out the all-around.”

Mayle and sophomore Jill Kowalski were named to the All-MAC First Team and will be competing in the regional competition as all-around gymnasts.

Other top-place finishes for the Flashes included Kowalski, who placed sixth on the bars with 9.700. Freshman Laci Hendress and junior Amy Cucinotta tied for fourth place on the floor exercise with 9.800. Cucinotta will also be traveling to the regional competition as a floor exercise alternate.

For Mayle, this will be her last chance to qualify for the national competition.

“She’s a tough kid,” Biggin said. “She realizes this is it for her career, and she’s going to give it all she has.”

Before the gymnasts leave on Wednesday for Louisiana State, they will work to perfect their routines and tighten up small places for deductions, Biggin said.

“They have put in a very solid year,” he said. “We’re pleased for them, and at the same time we’re disappointed that the team didn’t qualify. But the three individuals who are going will represent the university well.”

Contact assistant sports editor and gymnastics reporter Amanda Vasil at [email protected].