Redhawks rally to beat nationally ranked TWU

Sunday, February 5, 2006

Southeast Missouri State freshman gymnast Sandra Blake won her third straight all-around title Saturday, and the Redhawks won their second straight dual in a win over visiting Texas Women's University at Houck Field House.

Blake, named the Midwest Independent Conference Gymnast of the Week for her performance in a dual win over Winona State last week, finished with an all-around score of 38.975, her top score in her short Redhawks career.

"She's pretty much a 39-pointer in the all-around," Southeast coach Tom Farden said. "That's a pretty good all-around score."

Southeast edged Texas Women's 192.925-192.00 for the win. Texas Women's, also a member of the MIC, came into the meet ranked No. 33 in the nation.

The Redhawks trailed in the running score heading into the final event after a poor performance in the balance beam. Southeast had three falls on the beam, and only had two scores above 9.6.

On the floor, though, Southeast rose to the occasion. The Redhawks had four gymnasts score 9.7 or higher, and swept the top four scores.

"Collectively, they charged back on the floor," Farden said.

While their performance on the floor sealed the victory for the Redhawks, it was their performance on the uneven bars that shined brightest. Southeast's bars score of 48.925 ranked as the third-best team score in school history on the bars.

All six bars scores for Southeast were 9.65 or higher. All but one Redhawks gymnast scored 9.725 or higher.

Farden said the Redhawks' bars performance was unbelievable, as nearly every competitor put up their best score.

"This is the most difficulty we've had in bar routines in my seven years," Farden said.

Blake finished second in the event and had Southeast's top score with a 9.850. Fellow freshman Maureen Grimald finished third in the event with a 9.825. Danyelle Aber followed with a 9.775, Byrstol Powelski had a 9.750 and Chelsea Unold had a 9.725.

"We really worked hard on that," Blake said. "So it wasn't something that shouldn't be expected."

Southeast's only individual event win came from Blake on the floor, where she scored a 9.825. Alison Ezell was second on the floor with a 9.775, and Grimald was third with a 9.750.

Blake said the crowd participation during the floor exercise was a big part of the Redhawks' success in the event.

"We had so much support when we get the crowd into it and show it off," she said.

Southeast freshman Starlyn Schwartz had the top score on the vault for the Redhawks with a 9.725. Schwartz was second in the event, and she also had Southeast's second-best score on the beam with a 9.675.

"Starlyn had a very good vault today, her best in competition so far," Farden said. "Chelsea and Danyelle really did good in the bars. That was exceptional. They really stepped up in the bars."

Powelski, the only upperclassman competing for the Redhawks on Saturday, finished second in the all-around with a 38.975. Blake finished second in the beam with a 9.750, and Ezell was third in the all-around with a 38.350.

Farden said he has seen growth in his young team through the first four meets of the season, but there is still plenty of work to be done.

"It's a learning process when you have a young team," he said. "You don't know what they're going to do all the time. You're not sure. Sometimes the characteristic of a young team is inconsistency."

Southeast's score on Saturday was its top score of the season. The Redhawks (3-2) will be back in action at Illinois-Chicago on Saturday. The next home meet for Southeast will be Feb. 17 against Illinois State.

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