Gymnasts impressive in tackling Big 10 opponents

By Matthew P. Lyons

Sports Reporter

While many students spend spring break sunning themselves on the beach, the BGSU women’s gymnastics team saw opponents from the Big Ten and the Mid-American Conference. Despite going 0-3, the team came away with their two best road scores of the 2003 season.

The Falcons started break looking to defend their 2002 All-Ohio Championship crown at St. John Arena against Ohio State University and Kent State University. Of the three championship meets held, the Falcons have won two.

BG began its defense on floor exercise. Kristin DiPietro scored a 9.725 to set the team up for a high score to begin the meet. The floor squad had no scores below 9.6 and was led by scores of 9.85 from Melissa Popovich and Jessica Guyer on its way to an impressive 48.900 points in the first rotation. After one rotation, all three teams were separated by .725 points.

BG went to vault in the second rotation and was led by senior co-captain Ann Marie Kassouf and Jessica Guyer with 9.725 points. The vault team flipped to another solid score of 48.475 points giving BG a score of 97.375 points. However, both OSU and KSU put up strong scores as well.

At the midway point of the meet BG found themselves in third place with KSU in second with 97.950 points and OSU in the lead with 98.575 points, a full 1.200 points in front of BG.

In the second half of the meet the Falcons stumbled a bit. In the third rotation the uneven bars team went up to add to the total score. After hitting four of the six routines put up 47.975 points were added, giving the Falcons a third rotation, score of 145.350. The bars team was led by Kari Elste who helped with 9.800 points for the event and total score. Heading into the final rotation both Kent State and Ohio State had pulled the gap even wider. KSU was in second place with 147.100 points and OSU had the lead with 147.800 points.

BG finished the meet on balance beam, an event that has given the team some trouble this season. Freshman Jessica Guyer started the event off with a solid 9.850 points. Seniors Rachel Hall, Ann Marie Kassouf, and Kathy Emerson showed great experience and added a combined 29.325 points to the team event score of 48.175 points. Emerson tied for first place overall with her score of 9.875 points.

In the end the Falcons were unable to repeat as All-Ohio Champions. BG finished third with 193. 525 points, KSU placed second with 195.450 points, while host OSU won convincingly with 196.650 points. The losses dropped the Falcons to 4-11 overall. On Saturday, as students were preparing to return to campus BG made the long trip north to challenge Central Michigan University. The Chippewas entered the meet in first place in the MAC at 4-0. The last time BG won in Mt. Pleasant was during the 1987 season. The Falcons started on bars. Senior Ann Marie Kassouf continued to show leadership as she led the bars squad with 9.800 points. Low scores on bars put the Falcons in the whole early as the Chippewas led after one rotation 48.000-48.825 points.

Things improved a bit in the second rotation as BG went to vault. The team did not count a score under 9.625 and was led by freshman Jessica Guyer. Another strong performance by CMU on bars widened the gap between the two teams to almost two full points. Half-way through the meet BG trailed 98.100-96.350.

The third rotation gave the Falcon floor squad a chance to shine. The team did not count a score lower than 9.750 points. Juniors Melissa Popovich and Pia Sjovall led the floor team with scores of 9.800 and 9.825 points respectively. This strong performance on floor brought the Falcons a little closer to the Chippewas. Going into the final rotation the lead had shrunk to just over one and a half points at 146.775-145.250.

For the second meet in a row BG finished on the balance beam. As the beam squad began CMU was ending the meet on floor. Senior Rachel Hall finished up her road career with a score of 9.775 points.

As BG continued on beam the Chippewas were putting up high scores on floor. As senior Kathy Emerson began her beam routine Central Michigan’s Michele Orloski was receiving her score from the judges. A perfect score of 10.000 sent the Chippewas crowd into a frenzy. Experience came through for Emerson as the noise level grew. Emerson’s score of 9.900 points tied her for first in the meet on balance beam.

“When the crowd noise grew all I heard were people cheering for me,” Emerson said.