Kent State edges BG gymnasts

For the second consecutive weekend, BG’s gymnastics team missed a chance to place itself among the elite in the MAC.

For the second straight week, it was a near miss.

The Falcons lost to Kent State on Sunday afternoon, 193.700-192.225. It marked the first time the Falcons failed to improve on the previous week’s number – they scored a 192.775 last weekend.

BG was left feeling they had their chance to win slip away.

“I think we had a sub-par performance based on my expectations,” said coach Dan Connelly. “I was pleased with the finish on the floor but the rest of the meet was average. The beam was our downfall and that was below average.”

The meet began on the vault for the Falcons and Jacque Bernhardt got the team off to a great start by winning the event with a score of 9.800. Jenna Wirtanen scored a 9.725, a career best, and finished tied for third.

A letdown in the bars event hurt the team’s overall score as only Sakura Tomita finished in the top scorers. Her 9.775 gave her a tie for second, but Jholeen Ponce also turned in a new season high with a score of 9.650.

The beam event gave the Falcons a chance to cut the lead down and they were able to score their second highest team score of the season (47.650). Bethany Kenel led the team with a score of 9.775 and Katie Follett also got a new career best with a 9.750 to give the Falcons some depth in the event. Megan Chronister’s score of 9.650 gave the Falcons another career best in the event.

“If we can all hit on beam and bars, we will be unbeatable,” said gymnast Allison Swafford. “We have the best team in the MAC but we just need to be more consistent in these events. If we stay on track and peak at the MAC Championships, we should be right up there.”

In the final event, the Falcons performed their best on the floor. They set a new team best for the season with a 48.500 in the event with Swafford leading the way with a 9.750 – good enough for second.

Bernhardt set a career record with a 9.725 in the event while three gymnasts – Morgan Balzer, Chronister and Kenel, all tied for sixth with scores of 9.625.

“We have consistently improved on floor each meet this year and that has been our strength,” Connelly said. “At the beginning of the year, we were weak at floor but we now have it as our strength. Balance beam will be the key to our success and whether we can compete with these teams.”

For the first time all season, the Falcons will step away from the MAC and travel to Missouri for The CAT Classic in Columbia. The team will then have a week off, followed by a trip to Texas. A month from now, the team will be getting ready to host the All-Ohio’s and compete for a MAC Championship.

“We need to stay consistent and get better at [the] beam [in] the next three weeks,” Connelly said. “These next couple of weeks are all tune-ups for the MAC Championship and we would like to be at our best then.”

“The key for us will be to stay focused,” Swafford said. “We have fun meets the next couple of weeks but we have to get better and not get off course.”