Redhawks Claim MIC Gymnastics Championship - Southeast Missouri State University Athletics
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Redhawks Claim MIC Gymnastics Championship
Photo courtesy of Alyssa Brewer

Redhawks Claim MIC Gymnastics Championship

Final Results

NORMAL, Ill. – The Southeast Missouri gymnastics team won the 2014 Midwest Independent Conference Championship in impressive fashion Saturday at Illinois State.
The conference championship came in the final rotation for Southeast, finding a way to grit out a victory on the balance beam.
"Tonight was a fight," Southeast head coach Kristi Ewasko said. "I told them every routine would matter. The MIC's never come easy and we talked about that before the bars. They did their job on the bars and we came to the beam.
"We know what the beam was this season. We told each one of them to take a deep breath and to just own their turn. It was their time to shine. Those last four up on beam, they could not have been brighter. I am so proud for their fight and their effort. In the end, they pulled it out."
The Redhawks entered the final rotation needed to score a 47.300 or better to claim the event victory. The first two competitors for the Redhawks took a fall, putting even more pressure on the final four.
Taylor Penzien righted the ship for the Redhawks, scoring a 9.700. She was followed by three freshmen as Ashley Thomas promptly scored a 9.800. Lauren Israel earned a 9.725 leaving the MIC Championship up to Alyssa Tucker.
"It literally came down to Tucker," Ewasko said. "She has been that solid diamond for us this year and has been there when this team has needed it."
Tucker scored a 9.800, giving the Redhawks the victory as the team scored a 48.075.
The Redhawks scored a season-high 195.275, which also ranks as the eighth-best score in school history. Texas Woman's finished in second place with a 194.500 while Lindenwood earned the bronze medal with a 194.250. Illinois-Chicago, Illinois State and Centenary rounded out the squads in fourth, fifth and sixth place, respectively.
The Redhawks began the meet with a bye before starting competition on the floor exercise with a 49.000. Freshman Chelsi Hamilton was the event co-champion with a 9.850. Bailey Walker and Megan Fosnow each scored a 9.800 for third-place honors. Alyssa Tucker and Ashley Thomas each posted a 9.775 to give Southeast the early advantage.
Moving onto the third rotation, and second event for Southeast, the Redhawks scored a 48.950 on the vault. Kimmie Pickerl and Thomas were co-champions on the event with a 9.825. Walker followed with a 9.800 while Fosnow posted a 9.775.
After three rotations, each team had completed two events, showing the Redhawks in the lead with a 97.950. Illinois State was in second place with a 97.600 while Lindenwood and Texas Woman's had a tie for third place with a score of 97.425.
The Redhawks endured another bye on the fourth rotation before heading to bars. Texas Woman's was the team on bars in front of them and watched the Pioneers post a 49.325, showing who the competition would be for the final two events.
Southeast answered with a school-record 49.250 to maintain its lead in the meet. Taryn Vanderpool and Israel were co-champions on the event with a 9.900. That score tied a career-best for the senior Vanderpool and a season-best for the freshman Israel.
Taylor Penzien hit her routine with a 9.850 while Fosnow received a 9.825 to set up the final event to win the championship on the beam.
"I think it just shows where this team is headed," Ewasko said. "We are definitely going to miss these seniors. They brought so much to the program. These freshmen have big shoes to fill and they have already taken their own steps.
"It feels great for the team. They put in the work day in and day out. This is an honor and testament for what they did with this program."
After the meet was concluded, the MIC handed out season awards including Tucker being named Freshman of the Year. Assistant Coach Sarah Shire-Brown was named the Assistant Coach of the Year.
The Redhawks didn't only collect hardware for winning the championship but had eight members named First Team All-Conference: Chelsi Hamilton, Bailey Walker, Megan Fosnow, Ashley Thomas, Alyssa Tucker, Kimmie Pickerl, Taryn Vanderpool and Lauren Israel. Bailey Walker was named Second Team All-Conference.
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