The Sacramento State gymnastics team finished off its season with a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation conference championship win on Saturday, scoring a conference championship-record 196.300 in the process.
The Hornets were able to use the friendly confines of The Nest to beat the UC Davis Aggies, San Jose State Spartans, Seattle Pacific Falcons, Alaska Anchorage Seawolves and the Air Force Academy Falcons.
It was an all-around team effort for the Hornets, with event scores of 49.000 or more on vault, beam and floor, allowing them to finish a full point clear of the second-place Aggies.
“From the first event and the first athlete, they were incredible,” said head coach Randy Solorio. “They had an energy tonight. They were confident once they walked in the door. I just knew that it was going to be the night [that we would win it].”
The Hornets started the meet on vault, where they have been solid all season, and Saturday they were even better. The Hornets put together their best rotation of the season on vault with a score of 49.100 to take the lead after the first rotation.
Senior Kalliah McCartney led the way in the opening rotation with a season-high 9.900 to finish first in the event.
After a bye in the second rotation, the Hornets rotated to the bars, an event which has been their worst all season.
However, Sac State was able to stay on top of the leaderboard after solid performances on the uneven bars, scoring a 48.825 to push their overall score to 97.925, leading the second-place Aggies (97.675).
McCartney led the Hornets again with a score of 9.800 to finish second overall to UC Davis’ Alexis Brown on bars.
The fourth rotation for the Hornets was on the balance beam, an event that has given them a little bit of trouble this season.
However, the Hornets were able to conquer the beam on Saturday, finishing with a season-high 49.025. Sac State led after the fourth rotation with an overall score of 146.950, more than half a point higher than the Aggies (146.425). McCartney and sophomore Lauren Rice both scored 9.850 on beam to lead the Hornets.
After the second bye for the Hornets in the fifth rotation, they finished off the victory with 49.350 in the floor exercises, another season high.
McCartney and junior Julia Konner both put up 9.900 to lead the Hornets and tie for second, behind UC Davis’ Stephanie Stamates, who scored 9.925.
The Hornets finished the meet a full point ahead of second place UC Davis, 196.300-195.300, with all four other teams more than 1.5 points behind.
“It feels great,” Solorio said. “All season we knew had the best team we’ve had in years. To know that we were able to finish strong at home and our seniors got to win, that just is like ice cream and cake.”
McCartney finished as the all-around champion with a score of 39.450, a career high and new school record. She also won MPSF Gymnast of the Year and All-Conference honors in all four individual events and the all-around in the final team appearance of her career.
“It’s a dream come true,” McCartney said. “I finally broke my school record which I have been hoping for this year and it came together. We came in knowing that we just had to do our gymnastics. We just kept it calm, we were keeping the cheering loud, and we were keeping the confidence high.”
Rice finished second in the all-around with a career-high 39.325 and multiple All-Conference honors as well.
“It was amazing finishing on such a high note because it was our only goal all year to get a conference championship,” Rice said. “We’re really good at keeping focused on ourselves because we have such good team chemistry.”
Although Saturday’s meet was the last one for the Hornets as a team in the 2016 season, multiple Sac State gymnasts will be competing at regionals on April 2, including McCartney and Rice.
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