Dominating effort

ali Price

Emotional meet brings out KSU best

The Kent State gymnastics team had record bests in all four of their events beating Ball State 194.775 to 190.225. All the gymnasts painted “SP” on their faces and had “SAP” on their uniforms in honor of Sarah Positano who was killed earlier last week.

Credit: Beth Rankin

Kent State’s gymnastics team opened its Mid-American Conference season on Friday by dedicating the strong win over Ball State (0-5) to the recently murdered student assistant, Sarah Positano.

Taking their inspiration from Positano, the Flashes (2-1) beat the Cardinals, 194.775-190.225.

“It’s been a very difficult week for all of us,” coach Brice Biggin said. “And I think with Sarah, one of the things that I think we’ve learned as a team, I think we’ve learned how to become a family and how to support each other, not only through our good times, but through the bad times.”

Aside from Positano’s influence, the gymnasts felt the support from the large crowd attending the meet.

“The atmosphere throughout, it was just great, having the crowd,” senior Erika Linnersten said. “Just knowing that Sarah was there, the crowd was there, the team was there. Everyone together just showed how everyone has come together. It’s just showing how much we care, and we care about each other and it’s easy to build momentum that way.”

Linnersten placed first on the uneven bars and the balance beam with a score of 9.875 in both events. Friday’s meet was Linnersten’s third consecutive meet with the top place on the balance beam.

The Flashes started off the meet uneasily on the vault; they dominated the Cardinals the rest of the way. Ball State held a 48.4-48.3 lead on vault, but Kent State went on to outscore Ball State on every event through the rest of the meet.

The Flashes started putting momentum together on their next event, bars. Led by Linnersten’s 9.875 score, all six of the Flashes placed above Ball State on the uneven bars.

“We had a little bit of a rough warm up; we were still a little nervous,” Linnersten said. “But by the time we got to bars, we were confident and we know that Sarah’s here, and we know the presence, and we’ve done these routines millions of times and it’s just easy to do it over again.”

The Flashes momentum was almost derailed when sophomore Natalie Strasser was first up to perform her floor routine and received a lower score from one of the judges. The judge inadvertently scored Strasser’s routine at a starting value of 9.8. After a stare from Biggin in the direction of the judge, she quickly reevaluated Strasser’s score.

“Obviously I wanted to make a point to her to look a little closer at what she was doing because that wasn’t the score it should have been,” Biggin said.

The Flashes were forced to look toward Linnersten for leadership. Seniors Earline Feugill and April Zentko remained out of competition on Friday with injuries. Feugill has competed all season. Zentko is ranked No. 3 in the MAC and No. 63 in all-around nationally.

“It’s hard having two of the seniors out because they were a huge asset to this team. They still are, but just in a different sense now,” Linnersten said. “They do a very good job with the role that they do now, and that’s keeping the girls on track and cheering as loud as they can and just making sure that things are running smoothly in the gym and at the meet.”

Contact gymnastics reporter Kali Price at [email protected].