Broncos Continue to Improve in Week Three of Competition
WMU’s overall total of 192.100 was its best yet this season, and the Broncos have increased their final score in each of the three weeks of competition. Western Michigan additionally recorded its highest event score of 2014, tallying a 48.875 on the floor exercise.
Sophomore Jessi Buis (vault), senior Shelby MacDonald (uneven bars) and freshman Audry Merritt (floor exercise) were individual champions. Merritt placed second on the bars as well, and sophomore Kayla Weber took third, as WMU swept the top three spots in the event.
“To have three individual first place finishers for the second week in a row was absolutely fantastic, and to be able to do that tonight against a top-25 program is a reflection of the hard work this team has been putting in,” said WMU head coach Penny Jernigan.
“We took some added risks on vault today, it wasn’t necessarily reflected in the scores, however we were pleased with the step we took in upgrading our difficulty, upping three of the six start values.
“Bars was very exciting, we hit 6-for-6, unfortunately, we lost our focus on balance beam and had to count two falls. I was pleased with how the team responded in the final rotation on floor and put up our highest event score of the year.”
WMU started the meet with a 47.800 on vault where Buis showed a 9.800, tying for first with KSU’s Amiah Mims. The team moved onto a 48.675 on bars and MacDonald flashed a 9.800 to win the event for the second consecutive meet. She also finished first last week against Bowling Green with a 9.775. Merritt totaled a 9.775, good enough for second and Weber followed with a 9.750.
The Broncos were shaky on balance beam in the third rotation, only recording a 46.750 but finished strong with the 48.875 on floor. Merritt’s 9.850 tied for first with two-time reigning MAC Gymnast of the Year, Marie Case of Kent State.
“Buis performed another outstanding vault and Shelby has just been a rock for this team. She had another beautiful bar routine with a stuck landing,” Jernigan said. “Merritt really shined tonight, her floor routine was outstanding and she gave us a glimpse of what she is capable of contributing to this program.”
The depth of the defending MAC regular season champion Golden Flashes ultimately was too much for the Broncos. Kent State managed to lead start to finish, scoring a 48.525 on bars, 48.575 on vault, 48.775 on floor and ending with a 48.150 on beam.
Western Michigan heads to Northern Illinois next Saturday, Feb. 1, for its first road MAC dual.