LIVE BLOG: No. 40 Western Michigan at No. 36 Kent State

This afternoon’s MAC dual will likely produce the closest scores of the conference this weekend, with the Broncos and Golden Flashes being inches away by average and having the same score from week three. They’ll each be looking to earn their first score over 196 in Kent, further pushing themselves into the post-season conversation. With their respective strongest events coming in the last rotation, today’s in-conference win may come down to the final routine: Western Michigan leads the conference on beam, and Kent State is the perennial MAC floor favorite. 

Payton Murphy is coming off of week three with the conference’s Gymnast of the Week honors, having tied her own program record 39.400 in the all around. Watch for her in the back end of the Broncos’ lineups, and keep the number 39.425 at the front of your head. She’ll be complimented by fellow all arounders Sarah Moravansky and Dani Petrousek chasing their own 39’s for the season, leg eventer Cassie St. Clair, and second-half-of-the-meet Amanda Gruber. 

As for Kent State, Rachel Decavitch will be leading the charge with an army of three event gymnasts to carry depth from leadoff to anchor: Olivia Amodei, Alyssa Guns, Sarah Haxton and Kennedy Weinpert. Floor is a must watch for this group running almost as deep as their entire roster, with Guns and Karlie Franz notching their first 9.900’s of the season last week. For lineup puzzle inclined fans, look no further than the Golden Flashes. 

Today’s meet will be broadcasted through, with scoring available here.

Rotation One: Kent State VT, Western Michigan UB

Amodei (KSU): Nearly stuck Y full to start the meet, a tad piked and takes a small hop back. 9.750.

A Singh (WMU): Huge Tkatchev to start and her bail hits handstand. Looks like a stuck double layout from the split camera angle! 9.775.

Franz (KSU): Small hop back on her Y full, but keeps that hop almost in a perfect straight line backwards. 9.800.

Faulkner (WMU): tad short on the first handstand, and small leg separation on the Geinger. No problems transitioning to the low bar and back up. Late on the blind full put connects it to the double tuck with only one step back. 9.600.

Rankin (KSU): Keeping the Y full train rolling! Small hop back again. 9.700.

Petrousek (WMU): Gets great amplitude on her Tkatchev. Some feed interruptions cut the interior of the routine, but back in time for a blind full to double pike. 9.725.

Decavitch (KSU): Some elbow form on the table, and a low chest on the landing of her Y full. 9.750.

Roy (WMU): Textbook first handstand, into a toe circle and Maloney. Toe handstand again on the high bar into her bail, and keeps her legs GLUED. Small step back on her double layout. 9.700.

Gilbert (KSU): Flies off the table, and still has amplitude to spare from her Y full with a large step back. 9.750.

Murphy (WMU): Finishes her front giant half right on top of the bar, easy release and bail. Not handstand shy today at all, and sets up nicely for her toe front tuck half dismount – only a small step forward and low chest. 9.875.

Weinpert (KSU): Fights for the stick on her Y full and almost gets it! Ultimately arm circles and has to hop forward. 9.750.

Moravansky (WMU): Huge Hecht mount and nails the first handstand, right into her Jaeger to bail combo. College stick on her double layout. 9.850.

Migliore (KSU): Some piking in the post flight of her Y full, but will definitely factor into lineup decisions this year.

Quoss (WMU): In the exhibition spot today. Starts with a HUGE Tkatchev between the bars, then has to turn for her bail handstand. Finishes with a stuck double tuck.

AFTER ONE: Western Michigan 48.925, Kent State 48.800

After one rotation we’re almost as close as we can be on execution, given that Kent State fielded six 9.950 start value vaults. A hit rotation from both of these teams coming up will likely keep the Broncos and the Golden Flashes just as tight as after the first, but keep an eye on Kent State’s vault landings cleaning up throughout the season and pushing into the 49 range.

Rotation Two: Western Michigan VT, Kent State UB

Binstock (WMU): Feed was showing wrestling instead. 9.700.

Tsipis (KSU): Big Jaeger to Pak, taking her time with handstands. Finishes her blind full over the bar and takes it right into a stuck double tuck. 9.750.

A. Singh (WMU): Runs forward out of her Y layout half, but that’ll likely be the only deduction. Superb form in her repulsion and post flight. 9.525

Amodei (KSU): Loads of height on her blind full to Tkatchev. Almost copies and pastes it to produce a blind full to stuck double tuck. 9.775.

Faulkner (WMU): Y full with a pit of piking and a small hop back. 9.850.

Wentland (KSU): Leg separation on her toe handstand to Maloney, connects it right back to the low bar. Taking her time on handstands and makes sure we’re seeing the vertical positions. 9.750.

Murphy (WMU): Flares out her Y full and gets the college stick. 9.825

Haxton (KSU): Stars with a blind full, Jaeger and bail combo with loads of power. Pings a tad on her double layout and lunges forwards, puts her knee down. 9.375.

Petrousek (WMU): Tad piked on her Y full, but controls the landing and takes a small hop. 9.725.

Decavitch (KSU): Waits through a judges conference before she can start. Starts with a toe handstnad to Maloney, right to a Pak. Keeps her legs together throughout. Jump to high bar, and sticks her double layout. 9.850.

Moravansky (WMU): Y full, great form in the air but hops back on the landing. 9.775.

Franz (KSU): Milks the handstand to start her free hip, then the feed changes from three cameras just to wrestling. 9.800.

Roy (WMU): Exhibitioning today. Low shoulders landing her Y full, and steps backwards.

Rudnitskaya (KSU): Blind half to Jaeger, then has flexed feet on her Pak. Very comfortable in her handstands, and then college sticks her double layout to finish her exhibition.

AFTER TWO: Western Michigan 97.800, Kent State 97.725

For what it’s worth, Kent State and Western Michigan have the same team total on bars today. In the first half we’ve seen near-compulsory Yurchenko fulls, and lots of blind full to double tucks — but I have to give the difficulty edge today to Kent State’s bars with their single bar releases to Pak saltos today.

Rotation Three: Kent State BB, Western Michigan FX

Rankin (KSU): Commentators are saying her bhs loso, and switch to straddle 3/4. Dismounts with a roundoff double twist Camera is showing wrestlers up until the team celebration after dismounting, but replays the dismount to show a stick. What a time. 9.825.

Moravansky (WMU): Opens with a double pike, large step back. Right into pass #2, double tuck with a smaller lunge. Triple jump series has some low shoulders, but rotates the entire twist for all three. Finishes with a front layout front full. 9.750.

Haxton (KSU): Transverse cartwheel mount! Super calm beat jump to front toss. Equally calm bhs loso series. Great amplitude on her split jump and split jump 3/4, and gets both legs parallel to the beam. Finishes it off with a stuck punch front full. 9.825.

Petrousek (WMU): Gets loads of distance on her double tuck and lunges back. Textbook second pass, then hops out of her jumps but makes it look like it belongs with the choreo. Double pike lands with her chest down, and jumps forward to save it. 9.750.

Wehry (KSU): Big check on her Split 3/4, then off on her bhs loso. Fights again on her front toss but stays on. Not her day on beam, but finishes with a controlled roundoff 1.5. dismount. 8.850.

Binstock (WMU): Big fan of her opening combination pass: fhs rudi to layout full with a jump for good measure. Takes her time before sticking her double pike cold! 9.875.

Guns (KSU): Feed is showing gymnasts again halfway through her routine. Small check on her front aerial, and again on her bhs loso. Fluid switch split to split jump, puts up the Golden Flashes sign, and then sticks her gainer full to finish. 9.725.

Roy (WMU): Low chest on her tucked full in to open the routine. Switch half and switch full are plenty high. Front tuck through to double tuck, with a slide back into the lunge. 9.750.

Decavitch (KSU): Small pause between her hitch kick to switch half, then adds a beat jump to get the connection. Check on her bhs loso, then wastes no time going into her front toss. Sticks her bhs gainer full. The senior is making sure we know it’s still anyone’s game. 9.775.

St. Clair (WMU): Opens with her roundoff 1.5 punch layout, then gets right into her choreography. Plenty of height on her switch half. Finishes it off with her signature punch front double twist, and then plants her front foot down in the lunge forwards out. 9.850.

Klein (KSU): Bhs loso like it’s on the floor. Small check on her switch to straddle 3/4. Fights to keep the stick on her gainer full, and from this angle it looks like she got it. 9.775.

Murphy (WMU): BIG front tuck through to double tuck, and rotates her twisting jumps around gracefully. Rudi pass clean as always. Double pike also textbook to finish. 9.900.

Schultz (KSU): Exhibitioning today. Solid front toss, then major check on her bhs loso. Finishes with a stuck front tuck full dismount.

Gruber (WMU): Exhibition. More wrestlers while we hear her entire floor music in the back! Hearing some big cheers, so I’m hanging tight and waiting for some highlight replays.

AFTER THREE: Western Michigan 146.925, Kent State 146.700. 

With a 0.225 difference, this is the most separated we’ve seen the Broncos and Golden Flashes today. Beam checks combined with big scores from Ronni Binstock and Payton Murphy have laid down the gauntlet for Kent State on floor, but MAC fans know it’s a challenge they’re more than willing to accept.

For anyone following along from team Instagram stories, Western Michigan has now nicknamed Moravansky as Flooravansky.

Rotation Four: Western Michigan BB, Kent State FX

Binstock (WMU): Solid on her beat jump to straddle 3/4, and follows up on her bhs loso. Locked in on her switch half as well. Small hop forwards on her roundoff 1.5. 9.725.

Amodei (KSU): Punch layout to rudi, small shuffle on the lunge out. Loads of height on her switch half to Popa, but had one leg lower than the other. Clean landing on her double tuck, but again a small shuffle on the lunge. 9.775.

Petrousek (WMU): Attacks her wolf tun, and then hits a fluid bhs loso. Flexed feet on her side aerial, but connects it seamlessly to a beat jump. Drops her back leg on the switch leap, and takes it to a tuck full turn. Sticks her roundoff 1.5. 9.775.

Weinpert (KSU): Gets the crowd going with her shoulder choreo off the start. Excellent double pike, Craig Ballard is clapping in the frame. Music switches to Seven Nation Army right in time for her switch side and Popa. A tad low connecting her front full to front lay but makes it around. Music changes AGAIN to Jet’s Are You Gonna Be My Girl for her last pass. If you’re new to the MAC, consider this your invitation to Kent State’s floor party. 9.750.

Moravansky (WMU): bhs bhs loso, small check at the end. Switch split to loso, surprise! Small hop forward on her roundoff 1.5. 9.850.

Wehry (KSU): Double pikes right out of the frame! Tons of height on her switch side to Popa, jumps right out of it into her choreography seamlessly. Not afraid of eye contact at all. Controls her roundoff 1.5 punch layout easily, and keeps the energy up going into her double tuck with a small lunge back. 9.800.

Gruber (WMU): Small check on her full turn, then hits her bhs loso but with flexed feet. Switch half fluid as ever. Gets great rise over the beam on her split and split 3/4, then holds the stick on her roundoff 1.5 dismount. 9.900.

Decavitch (KSU): Opens with a MASSIVE double arabian to stag jump, and keeps it in bounds. Great height on her triple jump combination. Finishes with a front tuck through to double tuck, and does everything in her power to only take a long lunge backwards. 9.850.

Murphy (WMU): Solid front toss, then takes a check on her full turn. Fights on her bhs loso and takes the fall. Checks again on her ring jump. Pikes her gainer full and takes a small hop. 9.250.

Guns (KSU): Starts with a front layout to rudi, and there’s Craig Ballard again in the back celebrating. Someone mic him up please. Great head release on her switch ring, and then switch full on it’s own. Finishes with a double pike, no form errors on the landing. 9.900.

G. Singh (WMU): bhs bhs loso, looks like she doesn’t get her second foot on and comes off without being able to fight for it. Big straddle 3/4, and gets height again on her switch side. Small hop forwards on her gainer pike off the end. 8.875.

Franz (KSU): FLOATS her punch rudi to layout stepout. Switch half is almost exactly parallel to the floor. Finishes with a double tuck, and her signature finger guns in the ending pose. 9.900.

King (WMU): Exhibition today from the freshman. Small check on her front aerial. Fluid bhs loso. Plenty of height on her straddle and straddle 3/4. Small hop forward on her gainer pike off the end. Should see lineup time soon this season.

Haxton (KSU): Final exhibition of the afternoon in Kent. Opens with a roundoff 1.5 punch layout, and then soars on her switch half to wolf full without having to drop her shoulders. Shuffles in the lunge on her double tuck, but flawless in the air until then.

FINAL: Kent State 195.925, Western Michigan 195.425

While the Golden Flashes leave today with the win, we can’t skip over how the deciding margin is equal to one fall. A hit final rotation from the Broncos would have had a much closer and perhaps even tied final result. Today’s scores will bolster both teams’ averages, and serve as motivation to break the very attainable 196 mark.

Kent State will be on the road this coming Saturday at Northern Illinois’ tri meet, while Western Michigan will show at NC State’s tri meet.

VT Winner: Faulker, 9.850. 

UB Winner: Murphy, 9.875. 

BB Winner: Gruber, 9.900. 

FX Winner: Guns, Franz, Murphy, 9.900. 

AA Winner: Decavitch, 39.275. 

READ THIS NEXT: Judge’s Inquiry: Breaking Down a Week 3 Routine on Each Event

Live Blog by Peri Goodman

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