Two gymnasts look to give injuries a boot

Kali Price

Zentko, Feugill help team morale while trying to overcome physical obstacles

Seniors April Zentko and Earline Feugill have been out the majority of the season due to injuries but they have made an impact on the team’s success with their positive energy. The gymnastics team competes against Western Michigan and Rhode Island tonigh

Credit: Andrew popik

What’s the most disappointing thing that can happen in a gymnast’s senior year?

Being forced to constantly wear a large, black boot that extends to her mid-calf and not be able to compete.

Welcome to seniors April Zentko and Earline Feugill’s 2005 season thus far.

Feugill will make her first home appearance of the season against Rhode Island and Western Michigan at the M.A.C. Center today at 7 p.m. Zentko will continue to rest her injury.

The two have been staples for Kent State gymnastics during the last three years. But for the past few weeks, Zentko and Feugill have been forced to sit out on the sidelines because of injuries.

Feugill is out with a torn tendon and a sprained ankle while Zentko has been sidelined with an ankle sprain and bruised bone — resulting in the big black boot.

Zentko is the only one out of the two to see any action this season. Zentko competed in the season’s first meet against West Virginia and finished with the first place all-around score but hasn’t performed since.

A 21-year-old from Poland, Ohio, Zentko has been one of the top competitors for the Flashes in the past. In 2003, she earned a perfect 10 on beam.

Although she has only competed in one meet, her all-around average has kept her high in the national and conference rankings. Zentko is ranked No. 4 in the Mid-American Conference and No. 83 nationally with only one meet of work.

Feugill has had a similar year. The 22-year-old from Weston, Fla., has suffered from a severe sprain and torn tendon since the end of 2004. She did not compete this season until last week’s meet at Bowling Green.

“I’m at about 85 percent now, but it’s a matter of getting stronger,” Feugill said.

Because of their injuries, Zentko and Feugill’s role has taken on a whole new meaning. Both have stepped up as the team’s biggest supporters. Instead of warming up for routines, Zentko and Feugill are helping out their teammates. They help move mats and give advice to the other gymnasts. Their biggest role of the past weeks has been to cheer their teammates on and motivate them.

“It does change. Though we’re not able to do everything, we still have to really step up,” Feugill said. “We really have to motivate the girls that are competing.”

The Flashes’ past two meets have been the team’s most successful and emotional performances to date. After struggling early in the season, Kent State has put together back-to-back scores of more than 194 points.

“We’ve come together more as a team,” Feugill said, “Especially last Friday. We had a rough two events, but we pulled it together on the floor and the beam. It has to be a combined effort.”

In the absence of Zentko and Feugill, other gymnasts have had to step up in their place.

“The team just had to step up to fill the spots,” Zentko said.

The pair has not only been supported by their teammates, but they also received support from Kent State coach Brice Biggin.

“We have to push ourselves, too, but he’s behind us,” Zentko said.

Feugill will only compete on the vault tonight. In last week’s victory over Bowling Green, Feugill scored a 9.7 on the vault and tied for the fourth place score.

Zentko attempted to be back for tonight’s meet but opted for more rest. She said she hopes to be back against Central Michigan Feb. 18 because it is the most important match of the season.

She said she guarantees the big black boot will be gone against the Chippewas.

Contact gymnastics reporter Kali Price at [email protected].