No. 21 gymnastics went toe-to-toe with Northern Illinois and defeated the Huskies 194.8 to 194.025 in the Royal Rumble and Tumble in McGuirk Arena on Friday.
The Royal Rumble and Tumble almost packed the bowl of McGuirk Arena as the sounds of the Chippewa supporters were deafening.
“It’s a MAC win for us and that’s very, very important,” said head gymnastics coach Jerry Reighard. “The atmosphere was absolutely phenomenal.”
The meet was a battle, back and forth, eventually coming down to each team’s last event. CMU struggled on the beam after a few falls but rallied back on floor. Despite the falls, the Chippewas stayed in the 48-point range to hang in the meet.
“We didn’t look back at beam, we just focused on floor,” said sophomore Becca Druien. “We had to put all our work into floor and it helped us.”
Key performances by junior Brittany Petzold and Druien helped the Chippewas to get the crucial tenths of a point to overtake NIU. Each scored a 39.050 in the all-around. Petzold, recovering from a shoulder injury, proved that it is healed enough for her to amount to first place performances.
“I’m really glad I broke the 39 barrier,” said Druien. “I’ve been working at it since last year.”
The Royal Rumble and Tumble produced not only crowd noise, but different sounds from the different sports. Since only five of the gymnasts have experienced an atmosphere like this in the past years, it was evident that CMU needed to key in on focusing on each event.
“The noise affected us all in a negative way,” Reighard said. “On the bars I grabbed everyone and said, ‘I want you to look at the audience and the wrestling mat, you know they are there now, ignore them. Listen to your inner voice’.”
The noise, however, helped the underclassmen in the long haul. Reighard explained how the loud noise helps simulate a championship like atmosphere.
Not only was the crowd a big factor, but the weather as well. Mount Pleasant accumulated over 10 inches of snow and was forced to cancel all classes and events. The Royal Rumble and Tumble, however was the one event however that continued despite the weather.
“At 8:10 a.m. I was on the phone with our facilities manager and at 8:12 I talked to NIU to make sure they were in,” said Reighard. “Two minutes later I called back to facilities and said they are here we gotta go.”
Next Friday the Chippewas travel to Ohio to take on MAC rival, No. 24 Kent State. The Golden Flashes are coming off three-consecutive victories as CMU goes in with two.
“We need to have both barrels loaded next weekend,” Reighard said.