Gymnasts earn regular season title after third-highest score in program history


KSU Athletics

Members of the Kent State gymnastics team celebrate after beating Western Michigan to claim a share of the MAC regular season championship.

Isabella Schreck, Reporter

At the end of Sunday’s gymnastics meet in Kalamazoo, the scoreboard read:

Kent State 196.850, Western Michigan 196.725.

And the faces of the Kent State gymnastics team read jubilation.

The Flashes had just posted their third highest score in program history and clinched a share of the Mid-American Conference regular season title.

“It was literally pure joy on the kids’ faces and certainly on the coaches’ faces,” coach Brice Biggin said. “They worked so hard, and they’ve put so much time in. We knew what they were capable of doing and to see them out there and achieve what they’re capable of just means so much.

“It’s tough on the road to win meets like this, and it just speaks volumes about what they’re done together as a team. They understand that you have to be good in training if you want to be good in meets. When you can trust what you’ve done in practice all week, it makes your success so much easier.”

The Flashes tied for the MAC title with Central Michigan at 5-1 and finished 13-5 overall.

On Sunday, KSU won three events of the meet.

On the floor exercise, the highest scoring event for the Flashes in eight of their 10 meets this year, Kent State posted a season-high 49.550. Sunday’s floor total is the fifth highest in program history.

“We’ve talked to them all season that it takes consistency,” Biggin said. “And every time they go into a meet, they have to be at their best every single weekend. They’ve really worked for it, and we cannot be more proud of the efforts that they put in.”

Freshman Alyssa Guns scored 9.950, the highest score in any event for the Flashes since her 9.975 floor score Jan. 28. That score is tied for the highest score in program history. Guns has finished first for the Flashes in four meets on floor this year.

“You can see the confidence and just the pure excitement and joy she had when she’s out there competing,” Biggin said, “And she’s really bought into going out there and selling a routine and having fun. She’s come such a long way. It’s just really incredible to watch her compete as a freshman at that level.”

Junior Karlie Franz, who has led KSU on floor in two meets this season, tied for second with 9.925.

Kent State’s second highest score of the meet was on bars with 49.250, but the event started off with a fall from junior Olivia Amodei, the team’s lead-off performer.

The five gymnasts that followed Amodei all scored above 9.800. Biggin said he was proud of his team for not letting the first routine set the tone for the rest of the event.

“We could have lost the momentum real quick,” Biggin said. “But they went out and trusted what they were supposed to do.”

Sophomore Sarah Haxton, who leads the MAC on bars with an average of 9.865, took first with a score of 9.875.

On beam, KSU posted 49.200, its third highest score of the season.

Two weeks ago, the Flashes saw their lowest score on beam in two years. But the next meet, they scored a season-high 49.225. They topped that season best two days later.

To maintain consistency on beam, Biggin said he worked on recreating the high-intensity environment of a meet during practice.

“They would go and do part of an assignment [on beam], and then they would have to go and finish the other events that they do,” Biggin said. “And then they would have to come back to the beam, get a 30 second touch, and then complete a routine, which is what happens in a meet.”

Senior Cami Klein won the event with a season-best 9.925, the highest score on beam from any of the Flashes this season. Western Michigan scored 49.125.

Kent State scored 48.850 on vault to WMU’s 49.125. Franz tied for third in the event with 9.825.

The Flashes compete in the MAC Championships at Eastern Michigan Saturday.

“We feel really good about where we’re sitting right now,” Biggin said. “The girls are in good shape, and they’re confident in how they’re competing.”

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