Despite an impressive rotation on beam, the Eagles’ gymnastics team was unable to claim victory in its home opener against Central Michigan University, losing 192.975-191.525, Saturday night.
The scoring was close between both teams with EMU trailing by less than two points throughout the meet. EMU won the beam competition, but could not pull through on vault, bars or floor.
“We recovered great on beam, I was very pleased with that,” said coach Steve Wilce. “Bars, we struggled through routines — not what we’ve seen at practice. Beam, they came back and did a beautiful job. That’s an event that can be a little heady and they recovered very nicely, took control of it, by far better than a week ago.”
“Compared to the season opener against Kent State last week, this meet was better,” Wilce said. “The team did better on beam, about the same on vault and bars and not as good on floor.”
“Kristen Yourick did a real nice bar routine. Camille Cicchini did a very nice bar routine tonight and Stacie Wood was good,” Wilce said. “On vault Amanda Fuller stepped up, and did a lot better than a week ago. Kay Millick did better than a week ago and Erin Grigg did a nice job. On beam, the whole lineup was solid.”
Floor might have made the difference for the Eagles, along with a few more solid performances on vault and bars. It will be important for the team to continue to perfect their floor routines in order to close out matches in the future.
“I thought Central did a nice job. I think we had them on the run a little bit when we were on floor and they were on beam. We just didn’t do our job on floor,” she said. “We’ll see them next week and then we’ll see them at the conference championship meet at the end of the year.”
EMU is already struggling with injuries. Captain Mickayla Balow suffered a second-degree high-ankle sprain while tumbling on floor at practice about three weeks ago.
Balow said she is eager to get back out on the floor. “I cannot wait,” she said. “And then Steve (is) telling me everyday, ‘we need you on vault, we need you on floor’. I’m rehabbing the crap out of my ankle so I can come back.”
Although Balow can only contribute from the sidelines for now, she is still an important leader to the team.
“Overall I think that we made a lot of improvements, and we had a couple of downfalls where we did better last week, but we’re going to put it all together next meet,” she said.
“We had a lot of drive and hopes of beating them (CMU), because we really do feel that we are a good enough team to be up there with Kent and Central, so there was pressure on us today, but I think we handled it fairly well,” Balow said.
EMU’s team is young, but displays talent and potential. Kaylyn Millick is an all-around competitor who shows a lot of promise.
“Kay, as a freshman, is really doing well and she’s one of those kids who really likes to compete,” said Wilce. She is hard on herself when she doesn’t succeed and she’s going to be really good. We can see that now.”
Millick is rising to the challenge.
“It’s been fun. It’s definitely a lot better than at the beginning of the year. It’s kind of hard just because it’s such a difference from club,” Millick said. “I’m definitely getting along with the team and getting used to the environment at meets.
“In club it’s more individual. You do have teams occasionally at states and the bigger meets, but here it’s all about team. If someone messes up you have to back them up so it’s a lot different that way. It’s kind of more pressure, but it’s more fun, too,” Millick said.
The Eagles know what they need to work on at practice in order to improve at meets. “We’ve got to work last passes on floor. We’ve got to work handstands on bars, because we had a bunch that were short. We’ve got to work on dismounts and not bailing out on their dismounts,” Wilce said.
“Specific goals in the gym: We need to make sure that we keep our endurance up, hit our floor routines, make sure we’re getting our last passes, cleaning stuff up,” she said.
“The team is still coming together,” Balow said. “Sam Golden pulled out a really good floor routine for us. She was exhibition but she proved herself, that’s what we need to do. The exhibition people need to come through and they need to show that they can get the job done and they need to be in there,” she said.
The Eagles will travel to Kalamazoo for the 18th annual State of Michigan Classic, on Sunday, Feb. 7. They will host Western Michigan at 1 p.m on Saturday, Feb. 13 at the Warner Gymnasium.