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Gymnastic squad begins season a step from perfection

by Paul Cifonelli - Staff Writer
Wed, Feb 6th 2019 05:00 pm
Senior  gymnast Taylor Keough graciously looks up during her floor routine.
Senior gymnast Taylor Keough graciously looks up during her floor routine.
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For some teams, having high expectations heading into a season can lead to a collapse once competition actually begins. On the other hand, some teams accept the pressure that comes with national recognition and flourish. The College at Brockport gymnastics team falls into the second category.

Opening the season as one of the favorites to win regionals, the Golden Eagles challenged themselves with a difficult schedule early on. SUNY Cortland, Springfield College, Ursinus College, Rhode Island College and Southern Connecticut State University were all on the schedule while classes were not in session. Currently, Cortland is ranked ninth in the country, Springfield is fifth, Ursinus is ranked 13th and Rhode Island is 14th. Southern Connecticut State is a very good Division II school. If Brockport had not been up to the challenge, the team would have never earned its glorious rank.

The opening meet with Cortland took place on Tuesday, January 8. Brockport won the meet 186.575-182.950. A Brockport gymnast recorded the highest score in every event. Stephanie Mager won the vault event with a score of 9.625. Candis Kowalik topped all participants in the uneven parallel bars with a 9.500. The balance beam was won by Alexis Frankowski with a score of 9.425. Taylor Keough received the best score for the floor exercise with a 9.750.

The Golden Eagles participated in a quad meet four days later in Providence, RI against Springfield, Ursinus and Rhode Island. Brockport defeated the other three teams in the quad meet to improve its record to 4-0. Brockport accumulated a score of 186.300 during the meet. Jamie Sklenar received the highest score for the vault, Courtney Kamberalis scored the highest for Brockport on the bars and Candis Kowalik won the balance beam event and led the Golden Eagles in the floor exercise. At the end of the day, Brockport had the most gymnasts earn a score of 9.0 or better in their respective events.

The Golden Eagles dominated the meet the entire time, showing depth that none of the other teams were able to match. Brockport had 15 different gymnasts participate in an event and only four did not score at least a 9.0 on an event. Kamberali, a junior, was excited about the first two meets and how they turned out.

“We have a lot of new routines this year and it is so fun to see these new routines and watch everyone improve every weekend,” Kamberalis said. “Our team has grown so much closer that we all know how to give each other the little calm words of advice to block any jitters we have.”

The next meet was not as successful, as a trip to Southern Connecticut State halted the winning streak. The Golden Eagles lost to the Division II Owls 191.125-188.850. Despite the loss, Brockport put up one of its highest scores as a team on the season. Kamberalis was able to see the excellence through the defeat.

“From Southern Connecticut we learned that regardless of the outcome after the meet that if we all worked our hardest throughout the week and did our best on the weekend competition that we need to be proud of our performance and just continue to work hard in the gym,” Kamberalis said.

For a team that is currently ranked second in the country, the Golden Eagles had to refocus to bounce back. The preparation would be key to a successful comeback. Junior Rachel Gurgiolo knew that the team had to get back to work after the defeat.

“We went into the gym Monday and were ready to focus on more of the little things in our routines to help get our scores higher,” Gurgiolo said. “We were not disappointed at all in losing to Southern because although we didn’t do absolutely amazing, we made a lot of improvements and had a ton of fun.”

The Golden Eagles followed up the loss with a win at Rhode Island by a score of 188.850-178.450. Most recently, Brockport won a trio meet at home. They defeated Rhode Island and Ithaca College. Brockport was able to accumulate 189.050 points during the meet.

The next time the number two ranked Golden Eagles take the mat is Saturday, Feb. 9. They will attend the Cornell Invitational in Ithaca, NY.