Gymnastics is a sport that leaves little room for error.
With one gymnast left to go for each team, Central Michigan and No. 25 Kent State were essentially tied, assuming both gymnasts scored above a 9.75. After two-time Mid-American Conference Gymnast of the Year Marie Case scored a 9.925 on balance beam, junior Halle Moraw needed a 9.95 on floor to complete the comeback.
“I don’t know if she knew the number,” said CMU head coach Jerry Reighard. “But she was certainly very aware that it was going to take a great effort, a special effort. I knew the number, I knew exactly what she needed. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out that way.”
Moraw came up short, with a 9.9, the second highest score of the day for CMU. The Chippewas lost the meet by a narrow margin of 195.525-195.500.
CMU clawed its way back into Sunday’s meet against Kent State after being 0.825 points behind at the halfway mark. Early mistakes plagued the team.
Three falls on the uneven bars hurt the previously undefeated Chippewas.
“I tell them all the time, it’s not over ’til it’s over,” said senior Emily Heinz. “Don’t ever assume that they’re going to do their best, don’t assume that they’re going to fall. You can’t rely on a fall to win a meet. I told them we have to focus on ourselves and do our best to win today.”
Junior Taylor Noonan fell to begin the routine for the Chippewas on bars. Junior Becca Druien and sophomore Karlee Teet also had issues.
CMU finished bars with a 47.925, more than a whole point less than they scored on bars in both events last weekend.
“You have to put the bar solidly in your hand and you have to land solidly on your feet,” Reighard said. “We seemed to not be able to do that on one event, and certainly (Kent State is) not the team to do it against.”
No Chippewa scored lower than a 9.75 the rest of the meet, while Druien and Noonan were able to finish strong with three scores at or above a 9.85 between them.
“I was proud of how we came back,” Heinz said. “What we did in the second half should have happened on the second event, even after the first girl fell. They shouldn’t have let that affect them.”
Even after receiving the fourth-highest score on balance beam in program history with a 49.3, followed up by a 49.35 on floor, Reighard was not pleased.
“Great comebacks end in victories, not defeats,” Reighard said. “It’s very difficult for me to even sit here and talk about the positives. We’ll gain from this, we’ll learn from it and we’ll certainly have a different appreciation for a quarter of a tenth.”
Reighard contested some of the scores after the meet, but the video review didn’t convince the judges of anything different.
The Chippewas, now 9-1 and 3-1 in the MAC, travel to Illinois Sunday to take on No. 15 Illinois and No. 20 Ohio State.