Otahkians reach high mark in loss to Iowa

Sunday, February 10, 2002

The Southeast Missouri State University women's gymnastics team raised the bar in its dual meet with the University of Iowa.

In one of their best performances in the program's history, the Otahkians lost to 18th-ranked Iowa, 193.95 to 193.325, Saturday at Houck Field House.

"Iowa is a great team," Otahkians coach Patty Stotzheim said of her team's performance, "and our 193 score is going to give us a lot of confidence."

Southeast posted winning team scores in the beam and floor exercise, while Iowa won in vault and parallel bars.

"I think we did awesome," senior Stephanie Furman said. "This was, by far, our best performance of the season."

Individually, Southeast's Ashley Godwin and Amy Cole finished second and third to Iowa's Annie Rue in the all-around competition.

Otahkian Michelle Walker and Michele Ford of Iowa tied for first in the floor exercise with 9.9 scores. Godwin and Iowa's Alexis Maday tied for first in the parallel bars and Godwin took second in the vault.

Southeast welcomed back injured senior leaders Jessica Bagwill and Furman. Bagwill, out for knee surgery since November, finished fifth in the vault and Bagwill, recovering from shoulder surgery, had a sixth in the beam.

But their presence is as important off the mats as on.

"I did compete tonight, but you can also help just by cheering for the team and doing everything else you can to help each other," Bagwill said. "Hopefully, next week in Texas I'll be back and helping my team."

Furman said her role as a leader is important because there are so many freshmen on the team -- seven of the 15 team members are freshmen.

"The younger girls need to look up to somebody, so I find myself being a leader in many different aspects, not only in gymnastics, but also in the classroom and socially."

The Otahkians compete against Air Force and Texas Woman's University in Texas on Feb. 17.

llewis@semissourian.com

(573) 335-6611, extension 171

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