Eagles finish fourth in gymnastics tourney

Nikole Vitz

 

The Eastern Michigan University gymnastics team placed fourth (188.975) in the annual Redbird Quad Tournament Sunday hosted by second place finisher Illinois State University (192.025). MAC-rival Central Michigan University was also there and placed first (193.375), with University of Chicago-Illinois (189.975) , taking third.

On a side note, the combined effort from EMU (1-3) and CMU (7-0) provided the tournament win for the state of Michigan, edging Illinois by a total score of 382.350-382.000.

EMU senior Nikole Viltz had a great all around performance on Sunday, placing ninth on the vault with a score of 9.650 and eighth on the balance beam, scoring 9.550.

“I would have liked to done better than eighth or ninth this past week,” said Viltz. “Hopefully we’ll be able to be up in the top three along with everybody else, because I know we all want to keep striving for the top.” Other standout performances by the Eagles came from sophomore Brittany Cassar, who placed 10th on the uneven bars with a score of 9.600 and posted a 9.650 on the floor exercise, finishing 11th. Sophomore Kristina Kurkmilis also placed in the top 10, finishing eighth on the vault with a score of 9.650.

“Nikole (Viltz) did a good job on the beam and vault; not quite what she’s capable of, but for January, it’s still a good job,” Coach Steve Wilce said. “and Brittany (Cassar) is ahead of what she did a year ago and is beginning to grow into a pretty good athlete.”

Wilce also commented on sophomore Kurkmilis’ performance, who placed eighth last weekend on the vault (9.650), saying she had her best vault performance yet and is definitely most improved overall.

Entering her eighth season as assistant coach under Wilce is Andrea Siik. Siik noted the team is a work in progress, with the only problem being maintaining momentum, which is something that cost them the tournament last week. Overall though, the team has much improved from the start.

Freshmen entering the season always take time to blend in, but senior Grace Crouch, who is competing in her fifth season with the team, says this year’s freshmen have meshed better and are much closer than she has ever seen in her EMU career.

On Saturday, the Eagles play a highly-anticipated match for more than one reason. In addition to being the first home meet of the year, the Eagles are playing host to their arch rival Ball State University.

Viltz is really hoping for a win, stating that since freshman year, the EMU team is the most solid team she has seen and has a great chance of winning. Last year, Ball State beat EMU by a mere .025 points, which gives Viltz and the entire team plenty of reason to bring it all this weekend.

“Ball State put a target on their back after last year. We had one of our best meets (at Ball State) last year, but the outcome was not what we wanted,” Viltz said. “This weekend is going to be our redemption time… absolutely redemption time.”

The attempt at redemption couldn’t come timelier after a loss over the weekend. In addition to the rivalry, Eastern Michigan has planned a “Beauty and the Beast” weekend, an event where both the gymnastics and wrestling team will be competing at the same time. Wrestling is set to start at noon and the gymnastics meet at 1 p.m., both in the Bowen Field House.


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