Central Michigan University gymnastics helped solidify its standing as the best Mid-American Conference gymnastics team at the MAC Championships.
With the appointment of five CMU gymnasts to the 2014 Gymnastics Academic All-MAC team on Monday, a handful of Chippewas can show their fans they’re just as competitive in classroom as they are on the floor.
Juniors Taylor Noonan, Halle Moraw and Kylie Fagan, as well as seniors Emily Heinz and Brittany Petzold, were selected for positions on the team – positions typically handed down to 18 MAC conference gymnasts each year.
CMU tallied the most players appointed to the academic team than any other organization in the conference this year. Western Michigan had the second most All-MAC Academic selections with four appointments.
The number of appointments this year are considered a top honor for gymnastics head coach Jerry Reighard.
“(The appointments) really speak volumes about our priorities here at Central Michigan University,” he said.
The Academic team is an All-MAC recognition for student-athletes who have excelled in both their studies in the classroom and on the field of play. The designation does not require the athletes to engage in any additional play as a separate team.
To receive the honor, MAC athletes must maintain a 3.20 cumulative grade point average and participate in 50 percent of the games/meets in a season.
True freshmen and first-year transfer students are ineligible to receive the award.
This is the third consecutive year CMU has had the most Academic All-MAC selections. While the gymnasts sacrifice social time to be in the gym, they also sometimes sacrifice time in the gym to focus on school work.
“For these individuals to have the stamina to be in the gym four hours a day, curtail their social activities and prioritize their academics, (that) is exactly what we want,” Reighard said.
While the awards are meant to honor the successes of students, a small point of pride is imparted upon the coaches who have helped their athletes maintain a clear focus on why they came to CMU in the first place.
“We (coaches) sacrifice to allow them to be able to get to class, have adequate study time and provide that study time on the road,” Reighard said. “My assistants are hands on with every one of our athletes almost on a daily basis. We’re always asking them for their weekly planner so we know when they have tests coming up, we know when we need to, perhaps, back off.”
Out of the five players given the recognition, Petzold received the honor in each of the three years she has been eligible for the award.
Petzold, a health fitness major, topped the upperclassmen with a 3.77 GPA during the 2014 spring semester. Heinz, a biomedical science major, was close behind with a 3.76 GPA.
“(These majors) have very restricted options for their junior and senior year,” Reighard said. “We have to allow them to actually miss practice to attend the classes that are mid-afternoon. Emily and Brittany did that both semesters their senior year. They would come to practice, get dressed, go to class, come back to practice and pick up in our practice right where they left off.”
CMU ended the 2014 season 24-5, clinched the third most victories in program history and won a record-setting fifth consecutive MAC Championship.