Potential Lineups: Kent State

By Caroline Medley
​After a brief delay for the holiday season, we’re back with our Potential Lineups series! After a heated three-day Twitter battle, Kent State finally won, closely fought by Utah State. These are the final two teams we’ll be featuring in our series this preseason. So today we are covering the Kent State Golden Flashes, who finished 30th in the regular season in 2016. However, they’ve also been voted the number one seed in their conference coming into the 2017 season. As it gains some solid new freshmen and retains most of its heavy hitters, KSU should be in a great position to prove the MAC coaches’ poll right.
Vault last season was pretty middle of the road for the Flashes, with only one 10.0 start and some less-than-ideal execution. Losing Nicolle Eastman won’t mean too much, as her Yurchenko arabian wouldn’t start at a 10.0 anymore anyway, and hers is the only vault the team will lose. The Flashes
should fare a little better in 2017 on vault for two reasons: Jade Brown and Sarah McCarty. McCarty’s handspring pike half will become the only 10.0 start value vault for the team, which will give the squad a much needed boost for variety and difficulty. Brown, on the other hand, has a Yurchenko full that flies both high and far, which won her the Michigan state vault championship earlier this year. Kent State will

return six other fulls from Jordan Hardison, Skyelee Lamano, Kennedy Plude, Michaela Romito, Brooke Timko and Dara Williams. All but one of those broke 9.75 last season, and Williams’ season high was 9.85. If the Flashes can focus on tightening up their form in the air, their scores should start to trend higher, backing up the stronger scores that should come in from their new vaulters.

​On bars, KSU returns seven of their eight contributors from last season. And senior Rebecca Osmer only contributed three times throughout the season, so they know how to work without her. The range of routines is vast, featuring every family of single-bar release moves and dismounts ranging from double tucks to a full-twisting double layout. Veterans Lamano, Romito, Timko, Williams, Sarah

Lippowitsch, Ali Marrero and Rachel Stypinski should all return to the lineup, with Marrero and Stypinski the highest and most consistent of those. However, it is worth noting that each of these gymnasts scored at least a 9.8 at some point in the season. In addition, three new Golden Flashes will look to sneak into the lineup and provide some more depth and hopefully consistency. Brown’s Tkachev may not have the

highest amplitude, but she’s got a good swing and a stick-straight double layout that should work well for her in college competition. Darby Stanton has both a Tkachev and a Jaeger in her arsenal and beautiful handstand form when she takes her time. If she can consistently do that, she’ll be a huge asset on bars for Kent State. Emily Kelly’s most likely contribution is also bars — she even has a Deltchev, and she’s been training to clean up her skills to improve her scores. Finally, Sammi Nero has been training a solid Jaeger, indicating that she may be boosting her difficulty to try and sneak into the lineup. With so much depth, bars could be a real strength for Kent State this year.

​Eastman was the team’s only loss on beam, but none of their newcomers seem strong enough on beam to really affect the lineup. Working on the consistency of both newcomers and veterans should be a focus for the beam squad in preparation for season — all but two of their seven returning contributors fell at least once last year. Veterans Hardison, Lippowitsch, Marrero, Plude, Stypinski, Timko and Milena Fabry should all contend for spots in the lineup, with Fabry a good option for the lead-off performer and Marrero and Stypinski the stars of the show. Fabry and Marrero were the only two who never fell, and Stypinski broke 9.9 three times out of her nine beam performances. Consistency is the big thing keeping this beam team down. If they can stay on the apparatus and reduce their wobbles, they’ve got the stuff to really make beam a strength.

Floor sees the loss of both Eastman and Kayla Kosmerl, with Eastman the bigger loss of the two. She brought in scores as high as 9.925 last season, so she may be hard to replace. However, floor is also a place where the freshmen can really go to work. As far as the veterans go, Hardison, Lamano, Romito, Stypinski and Samantha Gordon should all look to return to the lineup, with the biggest scores from Stypinski and Gordon thanks to their E passes. Stypinski has a nice double layout and Gordon a quick front double full. She’s a very clean twister, so all of her tumbling is twisting rather than rotating — an

uncommon occurrence in college gymnastics. That clean form likely contributed to her excellent scores last season, including a season-high 9.9 at the MAC Championship. Hardison and Lamano both frequently produce solid scores as well, with either a great option for the lead-off position as they’re both pretty consistent. For the newcomers, Brown and McCarty look to contribute strong-scoring

routines, with McCarty bringing what will be the third E pass for the Golden Flashes. Her powerful full-in will again boost both difficulty and variety for the team. Brown’s high double pike and great musicality in her choreography will likely serve her well in the college scene. In addition to these two strong competitors, fellow freshman Gabby Williams has trained a double layout in the past, so it’s possible the Flashes could end up with four Es. These competitive scores will be important, especially as Kent State matches up with some higher-ranked teams, including No. 7 Michigan, No. 20 Washington and No. 27 Ohio State all in its season opener.

​As far as all arounders are concerned, Kent State had none last season nor is it likely it will in the coming one. Many of the gymnasts are strong three-eventers, but Stypinski, Timko, Hardison and Lamano all have one weaker event they’ve been sitting out. Stypinski’s is vault, Timko floor, Hardison bars and Lamano beam. If they can work on turning their weaknesses into strengths, maybe we’ll finally see an all around nationals qualifier from KSU. Freshman Brown is another possibility, but her beam isn’t the best, as her legs can get a little messy in her acro elements, and her split positions are rarely at a full 180 degrees. Beam is where the Flashes have the least depth though, so if anyone gets injured or gets a little too in their head, she may be a good backup option and could end up on all four. The same could happen, of course, with any of these girls, so keep your eyes on the Golden Flashes for some potential surprises this season.

That about wraps it up for Kent State! Tune in just after the new year for the Utah State article to round up our preseason coverage because season starts January 6! Remember to check out all our previous potential lineup articles here, our lineup frequency spreadsheet here, and this handy dandy guide to all your fantasy gym questions here — drafts are due December 30, in just four days!

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