Improving SPU sets ‘eye on bird’

In most sports, winning and losing is determined by the final score.

That’s not the case in SPU gymnastics.

Being part of a Division II university and facing many Division I opponents throughout the season, the Falcons’ true goals rely on improving their scores from week to week — not always competing to win over their rivals.

"It’s cool to win, but we focus on our own scores," senior Brianna Schwartz said.

In their first out of state meet, the Falcons traveled to San Jose, Calif., on Friday to compete in a tri-meet against Boise State University and San Jose State University. The Falcons earned third place with a season-best score of 189.00, a higher score than last year’s season-best of 188.425.

"It’s great that it’s our third meet and we’ve kept improving, so we’re on the right track," Schwartz said.

Boise State placed first with a score of 193.90 followed by host San Jose State who finished second with a score of 193.70.

"We know we won’t win against Division I schools, so we aim to improve our own scores," Schwartz said.

As a Division II team, the Falcons have similar skills to those from Division I. The main difference is that Division I teams typically perform moves of higher difficulty and have more resources to practice, Schwartz said.

"It’s a bonus for us because we get to challenge ourselves against Division I schools," Schwartz said.

Schwartz placed third in all-around competition with a score of 38.375 while sophomore Laura Willis placed fourth with a 38.00.

SPU freshman Sherah Veron nailed her performance on the vault with SPU’s highest score of a 9.65. Among other SPU top scorers were sophomore Bri Steigauf in floor exercise with a 9.775. Also, Schwartz earned a 9.50 on the uneven bars and was tied with senior Sadie Johnston on the balance beam with a 9.60.

With less falls, the scores rise but don’t always give the team justice, so the Falcons look at their own performances for ways to improve, Schwartz said.

"We fought to stay on the beam, not to fall on bars…. We fought hard," Schwartz said.

With Johnston’s first balance beam performance in competition this year, she stayed strong and gave an outstanding routine, despite being thrown into the line-up last minute, Schwartz said.

At away meets, only 12 women are allowed to compete. During the week of the meet, the coaches look for specific strengths from the team members in order to decide who would benefit the team most, Willis said.

Since 10 team members don’t travel, meets have a different feeling for the competing women without those extra voices to cheer with. Despite the reduced numbers, the Falcons’ energy level at Friday’s meet was especially high.

"Our energy for this meet was better than meets before," Schwartz said. "It worked throughout the meet and helped us perform better."

"We use the phrase, ‘eye on the bird,’" Willis said, "at away meets in order to keep our focus on the routine and remember that it’s no different than a home meet or practice."

With obstacles such as competing against top teams in the nation, the Falcons have made an effort to maintain their energy and make strong improvements at each meet. Before competing, the women have a quick talk, set goals and try to up their energy levels.

Everywhere the Falcons go, they are constantly surrounded in a team atmosphere, freshman Samantha Taylor said.

"We are a close group and love each other a lot," Schwartz said. "We boost each other up."

Saturday the Falcons will show off that energy at home, as they host San Jose State in Royal Brougham Pavilion at 8 p.m.

This article was imported from The Falcon’s Records
If you find an error, mistake, or omission due to the import process, please contact us.
Original Metadata about the article can be found below

Title: Improving SPU sets ‘eye on bird’ | Author: Rachel Zylstra | Section: Sports | Published Date: 2009-01-28 | Internal ID: 5925