Springfield College gymnast Brittany Baglow does it all on Senior Day to remember
By Dick Baker
By a quirk in the schedule, it was the last home meet of her career, but for Springfield College senior gymnast Brittany Baglow of Amherst, it came with the jitters of a first competition.
After two surgeries for a ruptured Achilles tendon, the last just eight months ago, it was time for Baglow to give all four events a try Sunday afternoon against Ithaca in front of a packed house at Blake Arena. The SC men were competing simultaneously against Temple, and the alternating screams of encouragement and cheers from four teams and their supporters bounced around the building to create an Olympics-like atmosphere.
Baglow was enjoying a tremendous season, hitting the national rankings as a junior All-American when she ruptured her Achilles doing a double back flip Feb. 25 while warming up for a meet. Only two weeks from the ECAC championships, it was a crushing blow.
And it got worse. Anxious to come back fully recovered for her senior year, Baglow went with an aggressive two-month rehab. Then one day, just walking in her driveway, she went down again – the internal sutures hadn't held.
“I was devastated, I dropped to the ground, I thought I was done,” Baglow said.
But she wasn't. Following her second surgery, Baglow went with a slower rehabilitation plan. As the season has progressed, she has ramped up her number of events. She started with two (bars and beam), then made it three by adding floor exercise. Sunday was to be the complete package with the addition of vault.
Before the competition started, the teams marched out per custom, Baglow and fellow co-captain Annmarie Graziosa honored by their teammates. There are still nearly two months remaining in the season, but all of it will be on the road.
Baglow’s vault effort showed no rust. It had been purposely left as the last event in her progression simply because the Pride needed her in other events in earlier meets.
She scored a meet-high 9.5.
“It was her power,” Springfield coach Cheryl Raymond said. “She had height, strength and distance.”
Though not everything went perfectly – she fell on the beam – the grand finale was the floor exercise, and Baglow's feet did not fail her. She scored a team-high 9.375 in a high-flying routine followed by roaring applause.
“It’s her dance, her presentation,” Raymond said of the crowd’s love affair. “She has a way of bringing the audience into the routine with her.”
Then the sweetest surprise was announced. Springfield had outpointed Ithaca 181.375 to 181.1, and Baglow had won the all-around with a 36.4.
“I’m so thrilled for Brittany,” Raymond said. “Coming back from that injury, and doing that in the all-around in her final home meet says a lot about her character. She’s a very special person.”
Sitting in the bleachers with an ice bag on her right foot, Baglow said she didn’t feel any pain during the event.
“This is so amazing for us,” she said. “In the last couple of years, we’ve been building our team, and we haven’t had a home win like this.”
Raymond says gymnastics is about keeping a strong mental focus.
“The winning part excites me; it was unexpected,” she said. It was the first time since 2009 Springfield had beaten Ithaca.
Baglow has three younger brothers and an older sister. None are gymnasts. “They’ve gone the soccer route,” she said.
Only eight months ago, it looked like Baglow would no longer be a gymnast either, facing the departure of something she had done since six years old – a potential loss of identity.
“I gave it to God,” she said. “My identity is not in being a gymnast, it’s in Jesus Christ. This isn’t everything.”
The health science major plans to take a year off to work before pursuing graduate school and a career as a physician’s assistant.
The floor advantage of 46.25-45.9 played a big part in the Pride's victory. Sophomore Abby Clark contributed with a 9.35.
Sophomore Lauren Pocius, the ECAC Rookie of the Year last season, won the uneven parallel bars and finished third in all-around.
The Pride will see Ithaca again, this time with Cortland, Saturday at Ithaca before competing in a quad-meet Feb. 10 at Brown.