The Seattle Pacific gymnastics team started off the year in arguably the most perfect way — a record-breaking win.
The team racked up 190.750 points across the four events on Friday in Royal Brougham, setting a new all time record for points in a season opener as they beat University of Alaska, who received 188.20 points.
“It gives us confidence,” junior Sydney Clark said. “If you can start with a high score, you feel like you’re going to have a super successful season.”
This confidence was boosted when the team got encouraging news before their season even started from some former judges who have seen them compete before.
“We got some really good input from judges at our intersquad meet who know our team,” senior Kenley Memmel said, who scored a 9.675 on the floor exercise on Friday, only .2 lower than her personal record. “We were told that we look really good this year, and that’s good to hear.”
The team also realizes that this is only the beginning of a long season and that starting strong is a good omen for the road ahead.
“We know it’s not going to be our highest team score because it’s our first meet,” sophomore Maria Hundley said. “Last year we broke the school record [for points] at nationals, and we are hoping to soar higher than that.”
Hundley is one of only four Falcons who compete in all-around, which means she competes in all the events as opposed to only a select few.
“[Competing in multiple events] isn’t really a challenge for me because we do it four hours a day, every day of the week,” Hundley said. “The biggest challenge is if you do bad in one event then have to switch to the next.”
During Friday’s meet, Hundley scored 9.800 on the vault, 9.000 on the uneven bars and 9.700 on the beam. Clark only competed on the floor, scoring 9.600 for SPU.
“We had a super strong start and definitely had some misses we could improve on,” Clark said. “For a first meet, it went really well.”
It’s a strong start for a team in a sport that is very unusual in its schedule in comparison to other SPU sports. The gymnastics team mostly competes with Division-I schools such as University of Washington and Boise State University because most Division-II don’t have gymnastics programs.
“It’s awesome to compete against these really big schools then head into nationals against Division-II schools,” Hundley said. “In all reality, we can be competitive with any school if we put our mind to it.”
For other members of the team, competing with the big schools is all about motivation.
“We know what it’s like to compete in huge arenas,” Memmel said. “It motivates us for when we compete at our own level.”
With an impressive opening-meet win, and a season filled with some tough, upper-level talent, the Falcons look to soar above their impressive performance last season, in which they just missed the team finals at nationals.
“As a team we really just want to leave off from where we left off last season,” Clark said. “We want to start from a higher place.”