Falcons look beyond team record

Looking at the season record of Seattle Pacific’s gymnastics team, one might not think it has a solid chance to make it to nationals. But in gymnastics, wins and losses don’t contribute to the likelihood of moving on in the postseason.

“We don’t go off of teams we compete against during the year,” junior co-captain Kenley Memmel said. It’s more about the score; we try to get higher scores than the people in our nationals. The one team we will meet before we get to nationals is Air Force – that will be the only team we see that is in our nationals.”

In the hunt for postseason action, SPU must earn an average team score that puts them in the top eight of the 13 teams within their USAG division. The Falcons are currently No. 4 to the USAG rankings.

Because most of these teams are on the East Coast, SPU competes almost exclusively against teams that are not in the race for their nationals, including high-caliber teams such as No. 11 Oregon State and No.15 Arizona.

On Friday, SPU finished third in a tri-meet held in Corvallis, Ore. Oregon State University tallied a team score of 196.825, landing them in first place; Arizona trailing at 194.900; and SPU following with 191.400.

Though OSU and Arizona’s scores may seem daunting, it is SPU’s average team score that will ultimately qualify them for their goal of competing at nationals.

Facing teams like OSU and Arizona that can hit and deliver their routines so effectively prepares the Falcons to be mentally tough and motivated to perform at a high level.

“It’s a really good experience to compete against such highly ranked schools,” assistant coach Sarah Marshall said. “It pushes them to be at their best, but it also gives them the opportunity to be in a high-level competition, where there is a lot going on, and there is noise and other distractions, and that’s really helping the girls be prepared for a big competition like nationals.”

The Falcons now are working on improving their team score to increase their average.

“I think we’ve done really well; we have a lot of 191s, and we really want to push it to the next level and not get stuck at the 191s all the time,” head coach Laurel Tindall said. “I would like the [team score] to be over 192, and I think we can do that easily. We need the next three meets to be up in those mid 192s, and that will put us up there.”

In Corvallis, the Falcons had a chance to be on a big stage, with more than 4,000 spectators in the crowd. With four events going on simultaneously, distractions were everywhere, and focus was key.

“The goal is to push ourselves to hit our routines like we know how to do,” Memmel said. “And we focus mainly on staying in our team. ‘Eye on the bird’ really applies over there, because if you’re not mentally strong, it’s really easy to get distracted because there’s so much going on in there. We try to focus on the team and what’s going on with us.”

This week the Falcons are on the road again, traveling to Colorado for a meet at Air Force Academy.

With three more meets left in the regular season, SPU has a chance to make improvements to reach their team goals.

“These girls are capable of getting really high scores, and each score that we get factors into our average. We’re on the right track to compete at nationals,” Marshall said.

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Title: Falcons look beyond team record | Author: Rebecca Magnenat | Section: Sports | Published Date: 2013-02-27 | Internal ID: 8594