The Central Michigan gymnastics team will be looking to win the Mid-American Conference title outright Saturday at 1 p.m. at McGuirk Arena against Western Michigan.
WMU is second in the MAC, and a win would put both schools at 4-1 in conference sharing the regular season title.
In head coach Jerry Reighard’s 28 years of coaching, he said this championship meet might be the most special.
“I’m very excited about anything Central versus Western,” Reighard said. “This is the first time since I’ve coached here that is a Central and Western championship meet.”
The Broncos are having their best year in a long time. Reighard said it’s unusual for WMU to be in the championship hunt this late in the season.
“Yes, it’s the first time that they have an opportunity to get a share of it,” Reighard said. “They can’t win it, but they can earn a share of it with us. I think this is the first time that they have a shot at it since 1988.”
CMU senior Kristin Teubner won MAC Gymnast of the Year last season. With her MAC Gymnast of the Week honors racking up she is looking at winning MAC Gymnast of the Year back-to-back.
Reighard said it’s her award to lose.
“I think it’d be hard-pressed for the coaches to unite and find someone else that is Kristin,” Reighard said. “I’d be very surprised if that happened. She’s had a great senior year, and she is the leader in the conference, and has won in the head-to-head competitions.”
As the leaders of the team, Teubner, Samantha Piotrowski and Brittany Petzold are trying to keep the team focused on what’s at stake.
“I think the team is very focused,” Reighard said. “It’s going to be a great meet, it’s the two best regular season teams going at it. They have some very high scoring individuals, as we do. We’re matching our kids, up against their kids. I think it will come down to the last routine for both teams.”
All season, CMU has been in first place in the MAC. The Chippewas are currently undefeated in conference play; this is their third-straight conference crown.
Reighard is confident that the team will stay in first place after Sunday.
“Absolutely, I like our chances,” Reighard said. “We’re in the driver’s seat; if this was some other sport on campus, and it was Central vs Western in a championship the campus would be buzzing.”
Reighard is trying to rally Central Michigan’s student body to support the team against WMU.
“I’m trying to get the word out there,” Reighard said. “I’ve been on radio twice, and we are doing St. Patrick Day festivities. We are having a Facebook contest. Students will register for a CMU gymnast, and the gymnast with the biggest support, that group will win a T-shirt.
“We just have to get the word out there that this is CMU vs WMU for the MAC title.”