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Captains look to lead Owls back to Nationals


This 2012 season for the SCSU gymnastics team will feature three captains as the Owls look to return from what some on the team would call a “rebuilding” year.

The three all are upperclassmen and have experience in the postseason competitions along with each gaining many individual accolades.

There are three captains on this year’s squad—junior Rebecca Brady and seniors Jessica Kiback and Stephanie Kuska.

“It feels the same [being captain] but it is a step up,” Brady said. “You have to set an example. [Teammates] ask questions and I try to give them the best advice.”

SCSU head coach Jerry Nelson is in his eighth year with the Owls. Nelson, the 2010 ECAC Coach of the Year, said the captains this year bring experience to the team and a competitive attitude.

“All of them have been to nationals as a team or individually,” said Nelson. “Our captains are voted by the team. It shows their work in and out of the gym. We have talent on the floor.”

The Owls opened the season with a loss at West Chester, 188.2-186 but saw some positive things to take going forward.

They then followed it up with a record-setting day in a quad-meet at Springfield. Southern finished second of four, defeating SUNY-Brockport and Springfield but losing to Yale.

Sophomore Kirby Pallis set a new record of 9.85 on the bars, while Brady received a 9.825 on the vault to pass her own school record last season.

Brady said that this season, she also wants to stay more prepared during each meet and to try her best.

“I need to be consistent and help as much as I can,” Brady said. “I definitely want to make it to nationals and have fun at nationals. I hope everyone stays safe competing.”

Brady is a two-time qualifier for the USAG Collegiate Nationals, competing on the vault and floor exercise.

Kiback competes on the balance beam and vault for the Owls. She was a 2010 and 2011 USAG Nationals qualifier on the beam.

Kuska competes on the bars and vault for the Owls. She qualified for the USAG Nationals as a sophomore.

Kiback said that she is excited about her responsibilities, but her mindset will not be that different with this role.

“The role changes [as captain],” Kiback said. “You are more of a role model. You have a say and work closely with the coaches. It’s helpful. I enjoy doing it.”

“It is about consistency and hitting your routines,” Kiback said. “Overall, the goal is nationals. It is not out of reach.”

In 2011, the Owls had 12 wins during the season and had six athletes qualify for the USAG Collegiate National Championships last April. The team also placed second at the ECAC Championships last season.

This year, the Owls will be closer to home late in the season with the ECAC Championships being held at Southern on March 24 and the USAG Collegiate Nationals will be at the University of Bridgeport on April 13.

Nelson said he is excited that these events are close to showcase the university at the event and all of their hard work.

“This team has a lot of depth and experience,” Nelson said. “I hope it gets them motivated to be in front of a hometown crowd. We hope we do not disappoint.”

“We definitely keep [nationals] in the back of our mind,” Brady said. “Every meet we will try to improve. This year, [nationals] is at Bridgeport, which is an advantage because it’s not far. It’s a good experience.”

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