SPU looks to finish strong

The Falcon gymnasts decided they wanted to start the season over with a clean slate heading into their final six meets of the season.

And that is exactly what they have done.

For the past two weekends the Falcons have flipped, vaulted and danced their way to a team total of 190 points or better, most recently posting a 190.625 on Friday night in Corvallis, Ore.

Although the Falcons posted a 190 on the road and earned their highest vault team total of 48 points, it wasn’t enough to topple Division I Oregon State University, 197.050, or Denver University, 194.250

OSU swept the competition on vault, floor exercise and balance beam and claimed the first place on bars and the top two places in the all-around competition.

The Falcons, performing for the first time this season in front of 4,000 fans, were fueled by strong performances from sophomore Kari Kelly, junior Melissa Stanton and junior Annastasia Ahr.

According to assistant coach Kathy Siwek, Stanton posted the teams’ top bar-score again with a 9.75. Stanton is currently ranked third on bars for the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation conference. Kelly delivered a 9.6 on her three events for the evening: vault, bars and floor. Ahr, also demonstrating consistency, scored between a 9.6 and 9.675 on her three events: bars, beam and floor.

"You can’t ask for better consistency than that and you learn to count on them as being consistent," Siwek said.

This is the type of consistency the Falcons will need in order to continue advancing their goals of "cleaning the slate."

Before the Falcons’ home meet against Sacramento State on March 7, the gymnasts’ were halfway through their season, which meant they still had a chance to turn things around.

"Before going into the last six meets, we could drop all our lower starting scores at the beginning of the season," said senior key floor competitor Rachael Anderson, who posted the team’s highest floor score for Friday’s meet with a 9.65. "So it is pretty much a clean slate as far as rankings go."

How is it possible to start a season over in the middle and wipe out all the scores from the beginning? Because only six scores are used to rank the teams for nationals.

According to the Falcons’ head coach Laurel Tindall, the Regional Qualifying Score (RQS) determines how the teams are seated at the national competition in April. The RQS is a total of six scores, three away meet team totals and three "at large" team scores, either away or at home.

With two of the final six meets finished, the Falcons’ goal of a clean slate has materialized. The gymnasts have posted their two highest marks of the season, but they must keep up their momentum for the final four competitions.

"Our goal is to score at least a 190 or higher in the remaining meets," Anderson said.

And that goal should be attainable for the Falcons because, according to assistant coach and beam specialist Allison Siegel-McAfee, the gymnasts can "only go up" from here.

"We’re getting better and we still haven’t hit our full potential," Siegel-McAfee said. "I wouldn’t say that we have had our best meet yet and I’m praying that it’s at nationals."

The Falcons, in their quest for a third 190 in a row, will take on Mountain Pacific Sports Federation rival Sacramento State in California on Friday. The Falcons return home for their final home meet on the March 22, which is also the evening the three graduating seniors will be honored.

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Title: SPU looks to finish strong | Author: Tara Lemm | Section: Sports | Published Date: 2003-03-12 | Internal ID: 3236