The Mid-American Conference champion gymnastics team found out Monday that it would be heading to Columbus to compete at NCAA Regionals.
“I want to go to Florida; I think we are going to Florida,” was yelled by almost every gymnast during the countdown. Each gymnast sat on their knees, talking to others. Not one face in the room was without a smile of anticipation and accomplishment.
An NCAA selection sheet was passed around to all the gymnasts as they were fitting their ring sizes from the recent MAC championship. The gymnasts were dying of anticipation as the countdown started to tick from 10 seconds.
As the warm states of West Virginia, Florida and Oklahoma were announced, the girls were upset to find out they were not going on a plane to a warm meet, but on a bus to Columbus, Ohio. The No. 24 Chippewas are set to compete against No. 6 UCLA, No. 7 LSU, No. 18 Arizona, No. 20 Ohio State and North Carolina State.
“We really want to qualify for nationals; I really think this team is capable of that,” said sophomore Halle Moraw. “That is really my only goal for this regional championship.”
To qualify for nationals, CMU has to be one of the top two teams in its region. UCLA and LSU both have history of reaching nationals.
“It’s a good position for us to be at; the fact that it is at Ohio State, I think it is a huge advantage for us,” said head coach Jerry Reighard. “Last year, we traveled all the way to Seattle, and that wasn’t a good situation.”
Every other regional site would have required the Chippewas to board a plane and go through a longer traveling regiment.
“Honestly, nobody believes that we can beat one of those teams, and, honestly, I don’t expect any of those teams to open the doors for us,” Reighard said. “We will have to be the best we have ever been, and that’s what we practice for every day.”
CMU will have a limited amount of practicing before it travels, but, since it is a shorter trip, it will aid the Chippewas in the long haul.
“We have to be perfect, and it better work out for us or we are not going anywhere,” Reighard said.
Regionals kick off at 6 p.m. Saturday.