Gymnasts extend MAC winning streak to four

Amanda Vasil

Flashes defeat rival Bowling Green in weekend meet

Junior gymnast Amy Cucinotta competes on the vault during Kent State’s meet against Bowling Green on Friday. The Flashes defeated the Falcons 193.550-190.550, and Cucinotta took first on the floor exercise with a score of 9.925. GAVIN JACKSON | DAILY KEN

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

While having a four-meet Mid-American Conference winning streak adds wins to the Kent State gymnastics team’s record, freshman Laci Hendress said it also adds team chemistry and confidence.

“It’s an amazing feeling because we’re finally pulling together as a team, and we’re all starting to hit routines,” she said. “It’s just such a great feeling because we all feel so confident. It shows that all our hard work is finally paying off, and we’re really becoming a team.”

Kent State (5-3, 4-1 MAC) defeated league rival Bowling Green (3-10, 1-4 MAC) Friday in the Flashes’ second home meet of the season 193.550-190.550.

The Flashes took first-place finishes on three of the four events, falling short only on the vault. Senior Carrie Mayle recorded her third all-around crown in as many meets with a score of 38.825, followed by sophomore Jill Kowalski with 38.675. The Falcons did not have a gymnast compete in the all-around competition. Mayle also finished first on the vault with a score of 9.750.

The floor exercise proved to be the Flashes’ strongest event of the night as they took the top three places. Junior Amy Cucinotta tied her personal-best 9.925 and took the first-place title. Hendress followed with a score of 9.875, and Kowalski and junior Julie Huynh tied for third with 9.775.

“Floor is always an event where it’s the last event, and when you’re at home you’ve got a home crowd that’s cheering for you,” Kent State coach Brice Biggin said. “It’s a great event to finish on, and hopefully that’s always an event that we’re strong on. We have some really good tumblers.”

On the uneven bars, the Flashes grabbed the first three places, led by sophomore Kristin Peters with a mark of 9.825. Taking second was Kowalski with 9.775, and third went to Huynh with 9.700.

While Bowling Green’s Bethany Kenel took first on the balance beam, the Flashes came back to take the following six places. Mayle placed second with 9.750, Peters took third with 9.675, Kowalski took fourth with 9.650 and sophomore Amy Presan and Cucinotta tied for fifth with 9.625.

Like Hendress, Biggin said the team’s greatest accomplishment of the night was gelling as a team and working hard to keep from falling on any event.

“We’re making at least five out of six routines on each event, and lots of times six out of six routines,” he said, “and when you start doing that, you’re going to start winning a lot of meets. But more importantly, you start to really build confidence with the team.”

Both Biggin and Hendress said they had concerns about being too confident going into the meet against Bowling Green but were able to stay calm and focused for the win.

While Biggin said the team will focus its improvements on the vault, it will also continue to work on team chemistry going into next week’s meet against Northern Illinois.

“We just need to stay consistent,” Biggin said. “If we can just stay consistent, we’ll be okay. It’s really just kind of fine-tuning little things. Because they’re not making big mistakes right now, it’s just trying to clean up the real little things.”

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