Beauty and the Beast event returns after four years


Annemarie Karabinus

The Kent State gymnastics team huddles before the final event of the Beauty and the Beast meet on Jan. 29.

John Hilber and Michael Neenan

One side of the M.A.C. Center’s gym had a strong smell of sweat, while the other smelled of chalk at Sunday’s “Beauty and the Beast” event.

For the first time in four years, the Kent State wrestling and gymnastics teams competed in the same gym simultaneously. The gymnastics team defeated Western Michigan 195.925 to 195.425, and wrestling lost to Clarion 29-6.

“We love the whole Beauty and the Beast concept,” gymnastics coach Brice Biggin said. “It’s a fun meet for people to come and watch. We’re happy to be home, get a win under our belt and just keep working hard for next week.”

This was the sixth time Kent State had hosted the “Beauty and the Beast” event. With gymnastics’ win, the team has a 4-2 and a 0-1 MAC record. The wrestling team has a 3-3 record following the loss.

“It’s always a great event,” wrestling coach Jim Andrassy said. “They do a really good job with it as a university as far as putting this together, and it’s something they want us to do on a yearly basis and I love it.”

The first Beauty and the Beast event occurred in 2013, where both teams won their competitions. The gymnastics team defeated Rutgers 195.675-193.700, and wrestling defeated Cleveland State 31-10.

Both teams won again in 2014 and 2015.

1/29 Beauty and the Beast gymnastics meet
The Kent State gymnastics team cheers on their teammates through their routines during the Beauty and the Beast meet on Jan. 29. (Annemarie Karabinus)

The “Beauty and the Beast” event resumed after a one-year break in 2017. Gymnastics fell to No. 25 West Virginia 195.950-194.875. Wrestling hosted the No. 1 team in the country, Oklahoma State, and lost 36-6.

In the most recent event in 2019, gymnastics and wrestling lost to Central Michigan 195.175-194.125 and 23-12, respectively.

Sunday’s event began as members of the Kent State wrestling team escorted the gymnasts to the M.A.C Center floor. For more than three hours, the M.A.C.C. was filled with incessant cheering.

The bottom bleachers were nearly filled to maximum capacity as the away teams walked in to the theme of “Imperial March.” The energy was electric, and the crowd was constantly cheering.

The KSU gymnasts began the meet on the vault, and then moved onto the bars. Western Michigan did their floor routines as the Flashes were on the beam, leaving Kent State to finish the event with its floor routines.

The crowd erupted as the judges awarded back-to-back 9.900s to give the Flashes the victory.

“I have never done it yet so this was fun. I was really excited, the crowd was really awesome,” Karlie Franz said. “The energy was really, really awesome in here.”

While a wrestling match was going on, people would still be cheering for the gymnastic event that had just ended. When a gymnastic event was going on, people would cheer for a wrestling move or the result of the match.

Andrassy loved the crowd involvement, too.

“It brings in a crowd – it’s probably the biggest crowd we wrestle in front of all year,” he said. “It’s loud, and there are a lot of things going on. It reminds me of the MAC tournament and the national tournament. Guys have to be able to focus and stay focused during a match when other stuff is going on around them.”

Keegan Knapp (Gold) cheers after regaining control from opponent Trevor Elfvin (White) during Kent State’s matchup against Clarion Jan. 29. (Janson McNair)

Graduate student wrestler Kody Komara said the event “is always fun.”

“There’s a lot going on and we get a big crowd,” he said. “It gives you a few extra nerves, which makes it a little more fun.”

KSU won two of the ten matches against Clarion. The wins came from  Freshman Keegan Knapp and Komara made up the team’s two wins. Knapp earned his eighth win of the season and Komara earned his 15th.

The Flashes will wrestle at Ohio University (3-7) at 7 p.m. Friday. Gymnastics will compete at Northern Illinois at 2 p.m. Saturday.

John Hilber and Michael Neenan are reporters. Contact them at [email protected] and [email protected] respectively.