Gymnastics wins tri-meet and first MAC-meet of the season, prepares for strong Ball State


David Dermer

Sophomore gymnast Kyndall Gilbert reacts during the Kent State gymnastic team’s opening meet against Northern Illinois and Southeast Missouri State on Sunday, January 16.

Isabella Schreck, Reporter

“This was really important for our confidence,” coach Brice Biggin said after the Kent State gymnastic team’s first place finish in its first meet of the season Sunday.

The Flashes scored 195.300 against Northern Illinois, their first Mid-American Conference competitor of the season, and Southeast Missouri State in the Kent State Tri-Meet. KSU led the afternoon in three events.

The Huskies finished with 194.150 overall, and the Redhawks had 191.500.

“To start off with a win and a really good score is critical in our team’s success moving forward,” Biggin said. “To be able to accomplish our goal, which is to win our regular season, we’re going to have to bring our A-game every single meet.”

The Flashes are now 1-0 in the MAC and 2-0 overall.

NIU is 0-2 in the MAC and 3-2 on the season. SEMO is 0-2 overall.

Junior Rachel DeCavitch took first all-around, scoring 38.800. NIU’s senior Tara Kofmehl placed second with 38.450.

To maintain consistency during all four events, DeCavitch said she stayed focused and looked to her teammates for encouragement.

“I don’t let loose towards the end,” DeCavitch said. “I just keep my mind tight. My teammates are always there to hype me up, and we are always keeping the energy high, which definitely helps.”

KSU led the vault event with 48.825. NIU scored 48.375, and SEMO had its lowest score of the meet with 47.775.

Sophomore Kyndall Gilbert was first place overall on vault, scoring a career-high 9.875. She had the top score of the day for KSU.

Junior Olivia Amodei took first place overall in bars, KSU’s strongest event of the afternoon, with 9.850. Sophomore Sarah Haxton also scored 9.850.

The Flashes scored 49.125 all together, leading the entire event.

“Bars is certainly one of our best events,” Biggin said. “I expect our bars to always be good. But this year if we really go out and do what we’re capable of everywhere, we’re fairly even in every event, which is what we want.”

The Huskies scored 48.300, and the Redhawks scored 48.050.

NIU and SEMO only outscored Kent State on beam, where KSU had its lowest score of the meet with 48.425. Senior Cami Klein led the Flashes, scoring 9.850.

“Beam was a little rocky for us, but the way we were able to stay focused and fight through that is something we need to hold on to and bring into every meet, whether we hit every routine or wobble a little,” DeCavitch said. “We just need to make sure we keep fighting through it.”

While still finishing ahead in the event, KSU saw its closest margin of the meet on floor, scoring 48.925 compared to Northern Illinois’ 48.775. Amodei came in first in the event with 9.850.

Southeast Missouri scored 47.850.

“Floor is going to be a matter of finding the right people,” Biggin said. “We lost so much strength from last year’s team. But Sunday we had people really step up and do what they were capable of, and that’s all that we can ask of them.”

With only 15 days of practice between the end of Christmas break and Sunday’s meet, DeCavitch said she and her team worked especially hard to get ready to compete.

“We come in and train everyday after Christmas,” DeCavitch said. “We were ready for it, but it was hard training. In the beginning of practice, we always say we’re here to win the [Mid-American Conference] Championships, so we kept that goal in mind and kept pushing through practices and towards the meet.”

Leading up to its first meet of the season, some of the team also dealt with Covid-19 infections, but Biggin said it did not stop the Flashes from having a strong performance.

“We went back and forth with little cases of Covid, so I was really uncertain what was going to happen,” Biggin said. “Thankfully, they went out and trusted themselves and did what they did in practice. That’s where they were successful.”

Kent State will compete at Ball State, its second MAC competitor for the season, Jan. 23. at 1 p.m. The Cardinals were picked to win the MAC this year in the coaches’ preseason poll.

The Flashes were predicted to finish in third.

“Ball State is a really good team,” Biggin said. “We know we have our work cut out for us, but if we can go out and stay focused the way we did Sunday, we’re going to give them a good run for their money.”

Isabella Schreck is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected].