WALKER VAN WEY | Reporter
The Lindenwood gymnastics team split its squad into two teams and squared off in the preseason Black and Gold exhibition, and while the gold team took home the win, both teams showed great promise.
Head coach Jen Llewelyn said she tried to create as real of a meet environment as she could with floor, vault and uneven bars being performed.
“We have a freshman class of seven and a sophomore class of six,” she said. “We’re a predominantly young team, so this was a really great opportunity for the freshmen to get their nerves out, and a good chance to see who did well under pressure. A lot got accomplished.”
Adding to the pressure was the ability to hold the event in the Hyland Arena and getting plenty of student and public support and participation. Senior Kayla McMullan said the team was excited about the way younger members were able to rise to the occasion.
“We have a lot of underclassmen, so for being new and the fact that it was their first time performing, nerves were high, and they took ownership of their gymnastics,” she said. “It’s always nice seeing everybody’s true personality come out on the mats and have it pay off in front of our fans.”
In fact, the Lions had no idea just how many people they would compete in front of.
“I honestly thought the crowd was way better than we thought and expected,” sophomore Bre Franklin said. “All of us were very happy at all of the people who decided to come out.”
Llewelyn said that although everybody exceeded expectations, the team will be working on minor details before the season starts without rushing the developmental process.
“We really just need to work on our confidence and our landing,” she said. “We’re focused on cleaning up the details now, but that will come with time, and we still have a month before season starts.”
Llewelyn and the young Lions team have their eyes set on a ranking that comes with plenty of effort but not enough to scare Lindenwood.
“Our biggest goal is to finish as a top 36 team in the country, which means you qualify to regionals,” Llewelyn said. “It’ll require consistency and work, but I think it’s definitely realistic of this team.”
The first step to regionals will begin on the road in Denton, Texas, on Jan. 12, when they will take on Texas Women’s University at 7 p.m.