Turner leads Redhawks gymnasts past Cougars

Sunday, February 14, 2010
Southeast senior Kelley Krengiel competes on the uneven bars Saturday.

The Southeast Missouri State gymnastics team hasn't skipped a beat under interim coach Kristi Ewasko.

Southeast continued to roll with its best performance of the season, Saturday's 194.650-193.250 win over Brigham Young at Houck Field House.

The Redhawks not only improved their record to 7-0 but posted a season-high score against a squad that was ranked considerably higher.

"It was our best meet of the year, no question," said Ewasko, a Southeast assistant last year who replaced the highly successful Tom Farden after he became an assistant at Arkansas.

BYU entered the weekend ranked 32nd nationally among 63 Division I teams with an average score of 193.144.

Rikara Turner's teammates watch as she performs on the balance beam during Saturday's meet against Brigham Young University at Houck Field House. (LAURA SIMON)

Southeast, which had four of its first five meets on the road, was ranked 43rd with an average of 191.306.

"It's hard on the road. You're out of your comfort zone," Ewasko said. "But I felt like we would have scored well today even if we had been on the road.

"The girls have really been working hard and practice has been going really good. They're building confidence."

Saturday's score should help the Redhawks move up in the rankings, which is important since the top 36 teams qualify for regionals.

"We don't like being in the 40s. We want to be in the top 36," Ewasko said.

Southeast junior Brianna Gaddie said the Redhawks were confident they could knock off BYU.

"We knew they were good, but we knew if we were consistent and hit our routines, we'd be fine," Gaddie said. "We've been working really hard in the gym. Today was our best meet."

Although she was the only all-around competitor in the meet, Southeast senior Rikara Turner continued to perform well.

Turner scored a season-high 38.850 in her fifth all-around title this year and the 16th of her career.

"I really am at a loss for words for what Rikara does for this team in the gym and out of the gym," Ewasko said.

Southeast won three of the four events, led by freshman Jordan Salsberg. She was first on vault (9.825) and tied for first on bars with Southeast junior Christina Sundgren (9.850).

"Jordan had a great meet," Ewasko said. "We expected her to come in as a freshman and do well."

The Redhawks' other first-place finisher was Gaddie on floor (9.875). All three winning scores represented season highs for Southeast.

Also for Southeast, Gaddie was second on vault (9.775), senior Kelley Krengiel was third on bars (9.800) and freshman Taylor Westrick was third on beam (9.750).

Southeast's bars score of 49.025 was the second-highest in program history.

The Redhawks return to action Friday at 19th-ranked Denver.

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