Flashes’ gymnasts fall to No. 5 Oklahoma

Amanda Vasil

Freshman Laci Hendress performs her routine on the balance beam during the meet against Oklahoma Friday night at the M.A.C. Center. Kent State lost 196.575-193.900. ALLIEY BENDER | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

For senior gymnast Carrie Mayle, the Kent State gymnastics team’s 196.575-193.900 loss to No. 5 nationally ranked Oklahoma wasn’t how she expected to end her career.

“It wasn’t how I dreamed my last meet would be,” she said. “But I did prepare myself for it, and I was ready to go. I came to grips with it because I knew I was saving myself for the (Mid-American Conference Tournament).”

Mayle, who has suffered back injuries in the past three meets, was unable to compete in the all-around competition on Senior Night Friday. She still competed on the vault and balance beam, placing third on the vault with a score of 9.825.

As the only senior on the team, Mayle said she was touched by the effort her teammates put into the final meet for her.

“It’s really neat because you can really feel the love that we have for each other,” she said. “I could really see in people’s eyes and body language that they were putting more effort in. It touched me on a deeper level.”

The Flashes (6-4, 5-1 MAC) fell short in all four events and the all-around competition, placing in the top three only on the uneven bars and vault. Sophomore Kristin Peters finished third on the bars with a 9.800.

Oklahoma (9-6, 1-2 Big 12) swept the balance beam event with three tying for first place with 9.875. Peters finished fifth with 9.800. The Flashes had two falls on the balance beam, forcing them to count a fall in their score.

The Sooners dominated the floor exercise, taking the top four places. Freshman Laci Hendress finished fifth, scoring 9.775.

Kent State coach Brice Biggin said he didn’t feel the Flashes competed with enough intensity to take the meet.

“The vault we were pleased with,” he said. “Floor was hurting not having Smalls (Mayle) in. I think the big thing we were disappointed with was the fall on the beam. If one kid falls, you can get by on that. But when the second kid falls, it can really have an effect on the team.”

Biggin said the Flashes are going to have less-intense practices than usual this week to allow them to go into the MAC Tournament rested and focused.

“There was some big disappointment (against Oklahoma), and we know we have to do better,” he said. “You gotta want it a little more, otherwise people aren’t going to just give you a title.”

Western Michigan won the regular season MAC Conference title, finishing with a 5-0 record.

Kent State finished second with a 5-1 record. The only loss the Flashes endured was to Broncos at the beginning of the season, in which the Flashes fell 192.650-191.425 on Jan. 22. The MAC Tournment will be held at 4 p.m. Saturday in Kalamazoo, Mich., at the Broncos’ home gym.

Mayle said the Flashes hope to go into the tournament strong, but are looking more to end strong and not give up points on the beam and floor routines. Despite its loss to Western Michigan earlier in the season, she said the team does not plan to repeat the meet.

“We lost to (Western Michigan) because we made a lot of mistakes,” she said. “We just have to go out there and put those mistakes behind us and compete better. We’re not going in thinking that any team is better than us.”

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