BG ends year with sixth-place finish in MAC

The season has not been easy for the BGSU gymnastics team, but the future looks bright.

A sixth place finish at the MAC Championships was not the desired result for the Falcons, but despite a decent performance, that was what they got. It was an emotional night as BG said goodbye to its seniors.

“It’s a mix of feelings, happy to have made it so far and accomplished all that I have, yet sad to be done with something that’s been a part of my life for so long,” said senior co-captain Jessica Bradley.

BG’s total score of 190.875 was good enough to beat Ball State, but the other five teams scored higher. Coming in first was Western Michigan with a 193.8, in second was Central Michigan with a 193.175. Kent State took third, followed by Eastern Michigan and Northern Illinois.

BG began the night on the balance beam. It was its only event in which it had any falls, but the Falcons ended up scoring third highest with a team total of 46.950. Bethany Kenel turned in a great performance for the second week in a row with a 9.7, good enough for a fourth place tie. Jessica Guyer and Jessica Bradley went out in style with a 9.6 and 9.275 respectively to finish their beam careers.

“We had to start on balance beam which is most people’s least favorite place to start,” said BG coach Dan Connelly. “Had we started the event later, we may have finished pretty high.”

The competition in the MAC meet usually speeds up as the meet goes on, yielding higher scores as teams know what scores they have to beat.

The Falcons headed to the floor next. Guyer was able to score a 9.75 on her favorite event and place 11th in a field which saw 41 of 42 girls score a 9.5 or higher. Jillian Stranges and Allison Swafford both scored 9.625 in the event and Erin Coudriet scored a 9.575. A career high was achieved by Marissa Saneholtz as she tumbled to a 9.55 finish.

Ashlee de Leeuw had a question mark next to her name all week as to whether she’d compete on vault. A 9.75 on the event let everyone know that she was there to stay.

“We kind of rolled the dice on that one, it was clear that she could do the vault,” Connelly said. “She trained it really well all week and we decided to go with her and she had the best vault of her life I think.”

Guyer was able to equal de Leeuw’s score in the final event of her long tenure at BG. Swafford was able to pick up a 9.675 in her attempt and Stranges and Jessica McArthur both scored 9.6. The event was the best for the Falcons all season and ended well.

On the last event of her career at BG, Jessica Bradley would lead BG as she and Jholeen Ponce both swung their way to a score of 9.6 on the uneven bars. Ashlee de Leeuw recovered from a mistake and scored a 9.55 on the event, rounding out an impressive last few meets for her. BG performed exceptionally well the last few weeks on the event. It had given them some trouble due to injuries but they bounced back in a big way.

On her experience at BG, “Looking back I see how much I’ve grown as a person and it feels good to know that I’ve done all that I have,” Bradley said.

It has not gone unnoticed that de Leeuw has made herself at home in the Falcon lineup and shined while she’s been there.

“I anticipate she’ll be doing at least three events for us next year and possibly the all-around,” Connelly said.

On the night’s performance, “It’s huge; she managed to cover the mistake and finish the routine and nail the dismount for that score.”

For BG it was not a dream season but they made the best of it. They will now say goodbye to Bradley and Jessica, who have shown exceptional leadership skills. Their performance in the gym and the classroom helped them lead by example. Also, team manager Melissa Bruch will say goodbye to the team. She stayed with the team after injuries shortened her career.

“We’ll certainly miss them, they’ve done such a good job as captains,” Connelly said. “Last year’s seniors passed the baton to this year’s seniors and they did an equally excellent job. “My hope is that these guys have educated the next group of seniors and captains.”

The Falcons can now enjoy some much needed rest in the off-season. Their final record was 4-11 and 2-4 in the MAC.