Season to be forgotten for BGSU gymnastics

Excuses are not anything the BGSU gymnastics team is familiar with, so they don’t want to make any for the season that they had.

It was a season full of highs and lows for a team whose coaching staff believes has the most talent in the Mid-American Conference. It did not necessarily appear that way as they finished sixth both in the standings and at the conference meet.

“I believe we have the deepest team in the MAC,” said BG coach Dan Connelly. “To finish that low does not show that and this coaching staff expects more.”

Columbus was the first stop for the team this season. They faced off against Kent State and Ohio State in the All-Ohio Championships. A third place finish was not what they were looking for but they used the meet to work out any kinks they had at the time.

The team then came home and won their next two meets against Central Michigan and Illinois State. The team’s confidence was running high as they headed into a meet against Northern Illinois.

That meet may have turned the tables on the Falcons season. A pair of injuries and a controversial do-over allowed for NIU made for a Falcon loss and things more or less went downhill from there.

“It was more like Murphy’s Law was in effect all year: If it could go wrong it did,” Connelly said. “I’ve never seen so many crazy things happen in a season in my life. We don’t want to ever repeat that.”

BG pressed on without four bars competitors. Injuries to Candice Deacon (knee), Marie-Eve Boisvert (knee), Sakura Tomita (ankle) and Ashlee de Leeuw (ankle) left the Falcons extremely short-handed on the uneven bars. The return of de Leeuw after a few weeks helped, but could not make up for everyone.

Jacque Bernhardt missed a few meets as well due to different circumstances and Jessica Guyer competed all season with a stress fracture in her back that limited her during certain weeks.

The NIU meet was followed by five straight weeks of road meets. The team experienced some shakiness. Injuries forced the team to find a new identity and it took more than a week to do so. By the time they found a lineup that worked they had reached their fourth straight road meet at Kent. They would lose the meet but it was a good performance.

“We had a few low points this season, losing people and losing meets we didn’t want to lose,” said junior Jillian Stranges.

After a small setback at William and Mary, the Falcons would return home for a St. Patrick’s Day meet. The luck of the Irish may have been on BG’s side as it turned in its highest score of the season against Eastern Michigan as the home crowd bid the Falcon seniors farewell.

BG hopes to have a few less injuries next season. They have depth but could only do so much. The gymnasts for each event may not have been suited to do every event they had done had the team been full healthy.

“The deeper you have to dig in the depth chart the weaker the quality is going to be of what you’re getting out of it,” Connelly said.

One thing the Falcons can do is look forward to bringing back a close-knit experienced squad next year. Seven juniors will become seniors and bring a strong core of leadership to a team which was a mix of youth and experience this season.

“We have a lot of underclassmen on this team but it’s the end of the season now and I think they’ve really caught on and stepped up,” said senior Jessica Guyer. “I think it should be really good for them next year.”