Story courtesy of Kent State Athletic CommunicationsKENT, Ohio -
The Kent State gymnastics coaching staff has been recognized by the National Association of College Gymnastics Coaches/Women (NACGC/W) after the Golden Flashes produced one of the most storied seasons in program history in 2011.
-year head coach Brice Biggin was named NACGC/W National Head Coach of the Year while eighth-year assistant coach Sharon Sabin and third-year assistant coach Tom Ward were named NACGC/W National Assistant Coaches of the Year.
"It's a tremendous honor and very humbling," said Biggin. Sharon and Tom have worked extremely hard, and I couldn't be happier for them. The entire staff has worked very hard, and the way our team competed is obviously a huge part of this success."
The trio - along with the work of second-year team manager Kristin Peters -- helped Kent State complete the season with their highest ranking in program history at No. 12 after totaling a team score of 195.000 April 15 in front of a large, fired up contingent of Kent State fans in the second semifinal of the 2011 NCAA Championships at Cleveland's Wolstein Center.
Kent State reached the national championships for the first time in program history after placing second at the 2011 NCAA Ann Arbor Regional April 2, achieving the special feat of competing for a national title while also playing co-host to the event along with the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission. Kent State defeated the likes of No. 4 Stanford, No. 16 Ohio State and No. 23 Minnesota at the regional en route to becoming the first regional six seed and Mid-American Conference team ever to advance to the national finals.
Along the way to the national finals, Biggin, Sabin and Ward helped senior co-captain Christina Lenny (Broadview Heights, Ohio) earn MAC Co-Gymnast and Senior of the Year laurels, sophomore Lindsay Runyan (Maineville, Ohio) garner MAC Specialist of the Year recognition and freshman Marie Case (Erie, Pa.) receive MAC Freshman of the Year accolades.
"It's a big honor because it's the highest award you can get in our field and a once-in- a-lifetime honor," said Ward. "The awards really go to the entire team, coaching staff and support staff. These awards are awards for the entire program."
"I am grateful to be acknowledged by my peers," said Sabin. "I'm glad the work that we put in as a staff helped the team be so successful at the national championships. These awards are a wonderful way to cap a wonderful year."
Biggin, Sabin and Ward will be presented with their awards at the NACGC/W Convention May 9 in Long Beach, Calif.