Being ranked nationally at No. 16 is a nice accomplishment. But, the Central Michigan gymnastic team hopes it’s just the beginning of a climb into the top-12.
Senior Meaghan McWhorter said it was the highest the team has been ranked since she’s been at CMU.
“It was really nice to come out No. 16,” McWhorter said. “With that said, we’re definitely not settling for that.”
Head coach Jerry Reighard and his team have established one major goal for this season—get into nationals.
At the end of the regular season, the top 36 teams across the nation are selected with six teams in the six regions. The top two teams from each region then move on to nationals.
Reighard said cracking the top 12 is the ultimate goal, although he knows it’s a monumental task that has only been done two times before in the program’s history.
Despite how challenging the task at hand is, Reighard said he believes his team has the talent to accomplish it.
“We had two really good opening meets, but they weren’t good enough to do what we want to do,” Reighard said. “To get to the top 12 we now are forced to knock off four teams. We have to score better than four teams and that’s not an easy thing to do.”
A score of 196 would likely knock off the four teams ahead of CMU, Reighard said. Getting a 196 would mean scores of 9.8s or higher on all events.
“At this point, we have all the skills and everything we need,” McWhorter said. “It’s just believing in our gymnastics and doing our gymnastics when it matters. So what we’ve been doing in the gym is to recreate 9.8s and 9.9s and the scores we want, so that when we go to the meet it’s just regular routine for us to get a 9.8.”
Although, the Chippewas aren’t where it wants to be right now in the rankings, there is one thing Reighard and the girls can’t stop smiling about.
Kent State, the favorite to win the MAC Championship while CMU was selected as third, is ranked 14 spots below the Chippewas.
“I’d like to say that’s what motivates us, but it’s not,” Reighard said. “We’ve had this motivation since August. We knew what we needed to do. We knew we wanted to open with a 195. We know we need to be a 196 and, eventually, we’re going to need to be higher than that.”
McWhorter said she and her teammates want to aim even further than the top 12 and hope to make their way into the top-ten.
“We’re always striving for first, but we’d like to get down soon to 10,” McWhorter said. “With every meet we’re making our ranking better, and to make it better means that 196.”