Gymnastics pulls off rare feat in season-opening win against Wisconsin-Eau Claire

Jerry Reighard has coached gymnastics for 29 years, and, for the first time ever in a season opener, his team did something it's never done.

It didn’t have a fall count against them in its 194.975 to 180.150 victory over Wisconsin-Eau Claire on Saturday.

“I gathered the team after beam and asked them if they’ve ever had this much fun before,” Reighard said. “This is the highest opening score I’ve ever coached. It’s not easy to do what we just did.”

CMU came out strong on its first rotation on the vault, scoring a 48.675 while four-of-six gymnasts scored a 9.75 or higher.

Three freshmen participated and scored in Saturday’s meet. Taylor Bolender in bars, Megan Lamphere in bars and beam and Kirsten Petzold in vault and beam.

Reighard had nothing but praise for his freshmen athletes after the meet.

“I’ll tell you what, Megan Lamphere gets player of the day,” Reighard said. “When you tell a freshman who has never scored a 9.5 or 9.6 that they have to score a 9.8 to be worth anything, they don’t know what to do with that. I grabbed her, and she smiled, she got that 9.8.”

Brittany Petzold was counted on last year to be one of the top gymnasts for the Chippewas. She will be counted on again and had a solid effort scoring 9.75 on vault and 9.725 on floor.

She was proud of the season opening win and how the team responded.

“I think we did really well today,” Brittany said. “We set a goal to hit 196, but, in the end, we hit 24-for-24 routines, which was another one of our goals. We just need to keep doing what we do in practice.”

If there was one thing to improve upon after such a dominating performance, Reighard found it.

“There are things that can definitely be fixed,” Reighard said. “I still saw a lot of opening meet jitters. I saw a lot of people nervous, even the returners had this question on their face. I don’t think we will have that next week.”

Both Petzold sisters performed well in their first collegiate meet together. Older sister Brittany assured that there was no rivalry between the two.

“We look up to each other a lot,” Petzold said. “I know I look up to her, and she looks up to me. We push each other to be the best that we can be. We have each other’s backs just like the whole team does.”

CMU hosts New Hampshire at 7 p.m. next Friday.