Women learn benefits of team work

Amanda Vasil

While gymnasts Carrie Mayle and Amy Cucinotta received Mid-American Conferences honors this week for their performances against Central and Eastern Michigan, Kent State coach Brice Biggin said it was their teammates who set them up for success.

“When you’re looking at a team sport, (Cucinotta and Mayle) and the team needs to realize that the team was a good part of them being able to be successful,” he said. “They all made routines, and they all made it comfortable for the people who go at the end of the meet. You don’t feel as much pressure, and it’s kind of like you just join in.”

The Flashes (4-3, 3-1 MAC) defeated conference rivals Central Michigan last Friday, 193.125-192.050, and beat Eastern Michigan, 195.775-193.825, Sunday afternoon.

Mayle, named MAC Gymnast of the Week, finished the weekend by grabbing both all-around competition crowns with scores of 39.000 at Central Michigan and a career-high 39.400 against Eastern Michigan. She received first-place finishes on the balance beam and floor exercise, with marks of 9.825 and 9.900 on the floor and 9.825 on the beam.

Although Mayle said defeating Central as a team effort is more important to her than personal bests, she said it was still an honor to be named MAC Gymnast of the Week.

“It feels good to get (the honor), but it feels better knowing that we beat Central and then came back in the next meet and beat Eastern,” she said. “We just want to go out and improve on what we messed up, so we get even better scores and gain more confidence before the MAC (Championship).”

Cucinotta, named MAC Specialist of the Week, recorded two career-high marks and took home two first-place finishes last weekend. She tied for first on the floor with a score of 9.825 against Central Michigan and took first on the beam against Eastern Michigan, scoring a personal-best 9.825. Her fifth-place finish on the vault, scoring 9.800, was another personal-best.

“I just come in and work hard in the gym every day, hoping that each meet I can do better and better and hopefully hit my peak at max,” she said. “I just go out there and compete and do the best I can do, and I’m glad I got (the honor).”

As the Flashes prepare to take on Bowling Green (2-9, 1-4 MAC) for the second meeting of the season at 7 p.m. tonight at the M.A.C. Center. Biggin said he hopes to match the amount of personal bests and team highs.

“I think you have to expect the same thing,” he said. “If you watch them compete, they make it look very easy. That’s what they’re capable of doing. They just need to come out with the same level of intensity and have fun.”

This season, Bowling Green has struggled with low scores and injuries, Biggin said. The team’s focus is not solely on the Falcons, but rather to qualify for the NCAA Nationals in April and to build upon each other for support.

“Our main concern isn’t what Bowling Green looks like and does,” he said. “We need to concern ourselves with Kent State, and that’s got to be every week. Because if we feel like we have to worry about another team, we’re really kind of distracted from what our team goal is.”

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