Falcons flock to finals

Konner Hancock

Over spring break the Falcons’ gymnastics squad competed in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championships women’s gymnastics meet and eight SPU gymnasts earned at-large invitations to compete at next month’s USA Gymnastics Collegiate Championships.

The eight invited players consisted of all-around performers Darian Burns and McKenna Zimmermann, Jadacie Durst on both the vault and floor exercise, Itzia San Roman qualified on the bars, and a pair of juniors who are repeat national qualifiers, Lena Wirth on the vault and Miyuki Matsune on the beam. The team earned their invitations after their competition in the MPSF Championship.

“They are training well for the championships next week and I hope they all have some good performances,” said head coach Laurel Tindall.

The Falcons will start the competition on April 12 in Bridgeport, Connecticut and continue the matchup all the way through to the final matchups on April 14. Despite the Falcons’ eight invitations to the individual SPU competitors, the team as whole could not earn an invitation to the USA Gymnastics Collegiate Championships for the team.

“It is really difficult to rotate with another team and not have the team support there but they are motivated to do well,” Tindall said about the individual SPU gymnasts competing in the championship.

The Falcons finished No. 11 in the national rankings and will not participate in the team competition for the second straight season. They qualified as a team at nationals in 35 of the last 38 years.

The team’s final performance together this season at the MPSF Championship the team was unable to grab a top three position unfortunately.

“The team was really up for this meet and had a great first three events. Then, who knows what happened but beam just wasn’t there that night,” Tindall said.

Despite this, the Falcons ended their team season with a couple of season highs. “The team had their season highs on several events,” said assistant coach Sarah Jean Marshall. “It was awesome to see them perform great routines at their final meet together as a team.”

Sophomore Kylie Reese set a career high on the floor exercise with a score of 9.800 and SPU junior Darian Burns scored a 9.850 on the bars, giving her a tie for fourth place on that event, and her season high.

The Falcons’ Burns was the only competitor for SPU who was able to grab a top five spot in any of the events. No. 4 on the uneven bars, 9.850, and No. 3 on vault, 9.800.

After the matchup the gymnastics individuals invited to the finals are focused on their routines, Marshall said.

“Our goal is to compete with confidence and show how much talent we have representing SPU,” she said.

Marshall said her athletes are aiming for All-American status and achieving that is one of the most positive ways to end the season.

“Our goal is for the athletes to hit routines and qualify onto individual event finals on Sunday with the chance to achieve All-American Status,” she said.