The Kent State gymnastics team produced its best performance on the young season Saturday, moving to 5-2 overall and 2-0 in the Mid-American Conference with a 195.800-193.825 victory at Bowling Green.
Junior Marie Case set a new personal best in the all-around, sweeping the competition with a 39.450. She took top honors in both the floor exercise and balance beam with 9.925 scores in both events, and added 9.8 on both vault (5th) and bars (2nd).
Sophomore Chelsea Drooger took top honors on the vault for the second week in a row for Kent State, tying sophomore teammate Whitnee Johnson for first place with a score of 9.875.
Senior Rachel Guida won bars, earning a 9.850. She was named MAC Specialist of the Week last week after scoring 9.9 on bars, while Case was chosen MAC Gymnast of the Week following wins in the beam, floor exercise and all-around, leading the Flashes past Western Michigan and George Washington in their 2013 home opener.
Kent State will return home to compete Friday against Rutgers. The gymnasts will be sharing the gym floor in a unique 'Beauty and the Beast' dual-meet with the wrestling team. The event is set to begin at 7 p.m. and is expected to sell out.
Kent State junior Corey Conners is one of 27 golfers named to the Ben Hogan Award Watch List. The Ben Hogan Award is presented annually to the top men's college golfer.
"This a great honor for both Corey and the team," Golden Flashes coach Herb Page said. "It's an elite list, and I'm not surprised he's on it because his resume speaks for itself. And he just keeps getting better and better."
At the 2012 NCAA Championships, Conners finished fourth in the individual standings. This past fall he posted top 15-finishes in five tournaments, including an individual title at the Gopher Invitational. Facing the nation's best competition, Connors placed fifth at both the All-American Classic and the U.S. Collegiate Championship.
Earlier this month, Conners faced some of the best amateur competition in the world, helping Canada win the 2013 Copa de las Americas at Doral Golf Resort in Florida. The duo of Conners and Albin Choi finished runner-up to Mexico in the men's team competition, while Conners finished sixth individually.
In 1991, Kent State's Brian Bridges won the Ben Hogan Award when it also included academic achievement.
"Corey is also an outstanding student and student of the game," Page added. "He'll be tested throughout the spring when we play in some of the toughest tournaments out there."
The Golden Flashes begin the 2013 portion of their season March 4-5 at the Louisiana Classics.
For the third straight season, three Kent State student-athletes were named to the Academic All-MAC Football Team. Senior quarterback Spencer Keith earned academic all-conference accolades for the third straight year, and was joined by senior defensive end Jake Dooley and sophomore running back Anthony Meray.
Keith carries a 3.74 GPA as a pre-med biology major and a member of Kent State's Honors College. He is Kent State's career leader in completions (732) and passing yards (8,062), and ranks second in career touchdown passes (45).
Dooley maintains a 3.32 GPA as a business management major, and led Kent State with seven sacks. Meray carries a 3.89 GPA as an exercise specialist major.
INDOOR TRACK & FIELD
The Kent State track and field teams swept the distance medley relay on the opening day of the Akron Invitational on Friday.
On the men's side, Marteze Roper, Joshua Schmidt, Jacob Swords and Samuel Allen clocked a 10:06.64 to take first place. The relay team of Taylor Wickey, Lynnese Beyan, Melinda Sawnor and Hannah Fleck captured victory on the women's side by clocking 11:51.42.
Kent State finished 1-2 in the men's long jump, as freshman Jailyn Twitty took top honors with a mark of 21-11 and freshman Dylan Shirley finished second with a jump of 21-9.
Junior Shanequa Williams and freshman Dior Delophant both earned MAC Women's Track Athlete of the Week honors.
Williams posted conference-best times in three events last Saturday at the Redbird Invitational, clocking a 24.04 in the 200; a 54.64 in the 400; and anchoring the 4x400 relay team that finished in 3:43.01.
Delophont won the long jump with a mark of 19-10.75, which is second in the conference this year and in KSU history. She has posted conference-best performances in both the high jump and triple jump previously this month, ranking in the top 10 in the nation in both events.
Kent State (7-4, 3-1 MAC) rallied for five straight victories to defeat Eastern Michigan 24-15 at Bowen Field House Friday night.
A pair of unexpected Eagle pins put the Golden Flashes in a nine-point hole before sophomore Caleb Marsh swung the momentum at 165 pounds. An opening-period takedown by Marsh fueled a 4-1 victory over Jacob Davis.
Redshirt freshman Sam Wheeler followed with a flurry of takedowns in his 14-5 major decision over Jacob Dorulla.
Senior Casey Newburg went to work right away on Phillip Joseph with a takedown and two-point near fall in the first period. Newburg hung on for the 5-3 win and moved into sole possession of seventh place on Kent State's career win list with 113.
With his team leading 16-15, senior Dustin Kilgore kept his perfect season intact with a 21-6 technical fall over Anthony Abro. Kilgore's streak of eight straight duals with a pin in the first two periods came to an end, but his NCAA winning streak extended to 50 matches and his dual winning streak to 60.
Senior Keith Witt then sealed the Flashes' victory with a 3-0 blanking of Chris Eggert.
Senior Stevie Mitcheff was effective from all three positions in a 5-1 win over Alex Calandrino to start the night. At 149, sophomore Andy Candiello rode out Michael Shaw for the entire third period in a 2-1 victory.
-- Allen Moff/R-C