Falcons hunt for championship gold

Chris Harper

Seven Falcons get a grip on the championship

Photo by Alison Meharg

Determined, driven, ready.

The USA Gymnastics Collegiate Championships is upon us. Seven of Seattle Pacific University’s gymnasts have been invited to compete.

Darian Burns, McKenna Zimmermann and Itzia San Roman received at-large invitations to compete at the USA Gymnastics Collegiate Championships All-Around events.

Meanwhile, Lena Wirth, Autumn Huskie, Sienna Brane and Miyuki Matsune all qualified for individual events.

The team has been working hard to perfect their skills before heading to Denton, Texas for the USGA National meet on April 13 through 15.

Head Coach Laurel Tindall is certain her athletes are up for the task in competing and hopefully making a run for the championships.

“It is always tough going to this meet as an individual without your full team there. They are all very well prepared and we hope that they have a great meet and great finish to the season,” she said.

Burns is heading into nationals as a reigning national champion, set on defending her title, as she competes in all four events.

She has a season-high all-around total of 39.150, which is the sixth-highest total in Seattle Pacific University history.

Burns, according to Tindall, has improved to become an all-around performer this season, and she is set on performing well at nationals. This is also Burns’ first season competing as an all-around performer.

An interesting, yet extremely impressive feat is Matsune’s qualification. She competed all season with a broken left hand. The broken hand has yet to hold her back this season, as she was the Falcon’s top beam performer four times this year, reaching the 9.80 plateau on three occasions.

“Her hand is feeling better everyday, but she is still a 1-armed beam performer,” Tindall said. “She has trained all season with this and we are glad that her routine could be adapted in this way to work with her injury.”
Unfortunately, while individual competitors qualified for the championship, Seattle Pacific University’s streak of team qualifications has been broken. Coach Tindall is prepared to get the team back to the top next season. She is looking forward to the future of the team’s youth, with 12 freshmen and sophomores, who are focused hard on improving in the off-season, to start a new streak for the university.

Defending champion Texas Woman’s University will host the championships as the second seed and will compete against No. 1 seed Lindenwood.

Rounding out the eight-team field are Air Force, Bridgeport, Brown, Cornell, Pennsylvania and Yale.