Gymnastics ready play in front of the home crowd

Max Braly, Multimedia Contributor

After winning its first two meets of the season away from Corvallis, Oregon State gymnastics returns home to host Seattle Pacific and Northern Illinois at Gill Coliseum at noon on Saturday.

The Beaver’s season has started off well, earning wins against both Auburn and Seattle Pacific. The wins are celebrated, but the group isn’t done improving. The team is in the process of transitioning from survive mode into thrive mode.

“We want to see more clean landings and sticks, not just ‘ok let’s survive the routine and make it.’ We want to start really performing it at the next level,” said head coach Tanya Chaplin.

Performing at the next level may seem difficult for a team comprised of almost half freshmen, but the senior leadership has allowed for youngsters to transition into collegiate gymnastics quickly.

“We do have a really young team, we have nine freshmen, but we also have six seniors,” said senior Kaytianna McMillan. “So I think it balances out pretty well. There are enough upperclassmen to show the freshmen the ropes. It really hasn’t affected much, (the freshmen) have really jumped into their roles and done what they’ve needed to do.”

The Beavers get an extra year of leadership out of redshirt senior Erika Aufiero, who suffered a season-ending knee injury before the start of the 2016 season.

“It will be really nice to be back in Gill,” said Aufiero. “Our first two meets were away. They were good meets, but there’s nothing like competing in front of Gill with our home fans and Beaver Nation. They really do just make it so fun and exciting. It’s just a completely different vibe, and I’m excited to feel that again.”

The gymnasts don’t have to miss a full season of competition to be excited to perform in front of Beaver Nation at Gill Coliseum.

“Our spectators are very knowledgeable gymnastics fans, and it’s fun to compete in front of them,” said Chaplin. “They are like our seventh person upon an event; they really add that extra (energy).

“And our athletes have done well on the road, so now I’m excited to see what they are going to do at home with our fans here. They have had to create their own energy from themselves, and they will continue to do that, but with our fans, (being at Gill) adds that extra little bit that they don’t have on the road.”

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