Flashes dedicate MAC Title to Positano

Kali Price

The Kent State gymnastics team drew inspiration from the memory of Sarah Positano and defeated Ball State on Jan. 28, a week after her death.

The Flashes drew on the same inspiration to help lead them to a Mid-American Conference Championship Friday at Northern Illinois.

“Before Friday and before the All-Ohio meet, we talked more about it. We talked about the feeling (competing against) Ball State and refocusing on that,” said Kent State coach Brice Biggin of the Flashes’ first performance without their student assistant. “It was a special feeling, and Friday was the exact same thing.”

The Flashes (17-7, 12-2 MAC) beat Ohio State and MAC rival Bowling Green with a 195.375 score on March 19 and went on to win their first MAC Championship since 2001 with a score of 195.00.

“The whole season was dedicated to her and her memory,” Biggin said.

The Flashes will look to keep the inspiration of Positano going into the NCAA Central Regional Championships in Tuscaloosa, Ala. on April 9.

With the inspiring victory, the No. 27 Flashes also took their second chance this season to defeat their biggest MAC rival, No. 13 Central Michigan.

“It was a huge relief,” Biggin said. “It was definitely a monkey off our backs. The team felt great about themselves.”

The Flashes last MAC Championship title was the last time they beat Central Michigan. It was the first win over the Chippewas for seniors Earline Feugill, Erika Linnersten, Lauren Wheatley and April Zentko in their four-year careers.

“The team felt fantastic about being able to beat Central,” Biggin said. “We knew we were capable of beating them all along.”

Linnersten was one of the top performers of the night. She was ranked No. 11 nationally on the beam heading into the meet and took her eighth beam title of the season with a score of 9.875.

Heading into the season, the Flashes had the knock against them of being young. The Flashes’ youth stepped up Friday.

“We needed to make routines aggressively, and we did that,” Biggin said. “We also needed the freshmen to stay calm.”

For her first MAC Championship, freshman Phylicia Robertson took Biggin’s advice.

Robertson’s 9.9 floor exercise landed her in the top spot. Friday was Robertson’s sixth performance with a score of 9.9 or above and her fifth floor win of the season.

Junior Carrie Mayle walked away with the second place all-around spot by scoring 38.825. Mayle also tied for second on the vault with a score of 9.750 and tied for third place on the floor exercise with sophomore Amy Cucinotta. Cucinotta and Mayle scored a 9.8 in that event.

Central Injuries

Central Michigan was also without top senior Kara Reighard who led the Chippewas in the Flashes’ Feb. 18 loss. Reighard suffered from a torn ACL less than one week before the MAC Championships.

“Injuries are a part of the game. It’s almost impossible to say if that affected them (Central Michigan) or not,” Biggin said. “We’ve suffered from injuries all season. It’s made us stronger. We’ve had to have people step up all year and they haven’t. You have to prepare differently when there’s an injury, and we’ve dealt with that all season.”

Contact gymnastics reporter Kali Price at [email protected].