Gymnasts find footing on beam

Three events down, one to go.

While their performances on floor and vault were strong and the beam was a pleasant surprise, the uneven bars still posed problems for the Falcons Friday night at Bank of America Arena at the University of Washington.

Once again the SPU gymnasts faced stiff competition competing in a three-way meet against Division I Oregon State (OSU), who is ranked among the top 15 teams in the country, and Division I University of Washington. The Falcons came in at third place, scoring a 190.050, their third overall score above 190 of the season.

Oregon State dominated the gym by taking first place with a score of 196.975. Sophomore Tasha Smith took first place on the floor and scored a winning 39.550 in the all-around. The Huskies scored a 195.800, finishing in second place.

"We know that we’ll never really be able to compete with teams like OSU, but it’s always fun to admire good gymnastics," said senior Kristin Bryant about her team’s attitude while competing against top Division I teams.

While acknowledging the competition level differences between SPU and the Division I schools that they so often play, Bryant said that each meet the Falcon gymnasts focus on making team and individual improvements and did so on Friday in the beam event.

SPU began the first round of competition by making a comeback on the balance beam from last week’s lowest score of the season against San Jose State, compiling a season-high score of 47.700.

Senior Debra Huss tied her season-high score on the beam with a 9.800, and senior Sarah Sullivan scored a 9.625.

Head coach Laurel Tindall said she was pleased with the improvement her team made on the beam and will continue to require her athletes to hit a specific number of routines, especially on the beam and bars, in order to compete in the meets.

"Some people can transfer what they do in the gym to the meet, and some can’t," Tindall said. "They need to be more productive in practice," she added.

Tindall explained that especially this year, with so many injured players and a lack of great depth in the line-ups, it’s easier for her athletes to get comfortable because their positions in the line-up are not being challenged. She feels that this rule will add the needed pressure to help them to continue to push themselves and stay motivated in the middle of the season.

On the floor, Sullivan hit a 9.775 while Bryant tied her career-high score with a 9.750. Sophomore Brianna Schwartz, who has been improving her scores each meet, did it again by landing a career-high and crowd-pleasing performance on floor, scoring a 9.750. She ended the night with her season-high score in the all-around competition.

The Falcons had their highest event score on the vault with a 48.150, but faltered in the end of the competition on the uneven bars.

"They just didn’t hit routines well on bars at all; they all missed skills," Tindall said of her team’s performance.

Bryant said that most of their problems on bars stemmed from the loss of momentum, causing an inability to complete certain skills in order to continue. This is why some athletes, like junior Ashley Domres and Sullivan had to dismount, reapply chalk and get back on the bars in order to get the momentum needed to finish their routines, said Bryant.

"On bars, when you are a little off, you are actually a lot off," Bryant said of the need to be on target at all times. "Sometimes there is just no way of saving something," she said.

This meet was Sullivan’s first performance on the bars this season and although she struggled, Tindall said that it was expected.

"She really wasn’t ready to do a full routine; we just put her in to give her the opportunity. We know that she is going to be a factor in the bars line-up later on," Tindall said.

Tindall said she knows her team has the potential to be strong in all four events by the time the national meet comes around, but they still have some work to do.

The Falcons should have plenty of time to get that work done as they continue their four-meet road trip, heading to Boise State this Friday to compete against Division I teams OSU, University of California Davis, and Boise State.

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Title: Gymnasts find footing on beam | Author: Ashley Sweeney | Section: Sports | Published Date: 2007-02-28 | Internal ID: 5476