CMU gymnastics wins Michigan-Illinois Challenge

No. 23 Central Michigan and Eastern Michigan gymnastics teamed up to take on Illinois State and the University of Illinois-Chicago in the Michigan-Illinois Challenge in Chicago Saturday night.

Despite the Michigan against Illinois pairing, all team scores were counted separately, with the winner taking the trophy home for its state.

The Chippewas outscored all teams with a score of 195.875. Illinois State was second with a score of 194.1, while EMU was third at 192.850 and UIC was last with a score of 192.8.

The meet was the CMU's second-straight quad meet and third-straight away from home. Away meets eliminate a whole day of practice; therefore, it is vital for great practices.

“We had an intense, almost grueling week of practice,” said head coach Jerry Reighard. “They responded very well to the harsh practices.”

CMU set its highest score of the season, eclipsing its previous high by .825. After recording two scores in an event 49.0 or higher, it was apparent that the Chippewas were out to send a message after last weekend's third-place finish.

Freshman Kirsten Petzold scored a 9.9 in vault, a new career high. Sophomore Kylie Fagan also scored a career-best 9.875 on beam.

“Fagan had a great day. She anchored in two events and scored great scores,” Reighard said. “I get very excited when I think about our future.”

Junior Brittany Petzold also put up great numbers in vault and floor, despite coming off of a shoulder injury. Her injury restricted her from competing in bars ,but, after only competing in one event in her last meet, she is showing good signs of recovery.

“Brittany’s shoulder just wasn’t where it needed to be, she went out and earned a great vault score for us,” Reighard said.

Although CMU eventually won by a big margin, it did not lead the entire meet.

“We had good numbers, but they weren’t what I expected; we only stuck one landing,” Reighard said. “There was gulp going to beam; there is only four inches to work with. We ignored the crown and the train kept rolling.”

The Michigan-Illinois Challenge is a different type of meet than others for CMU. Although representing Michigan with EMU, the Chippewas were working individually to not only better themselves but to capitalize on the championship-like format of the quad meet.

“The challenge is a really fun atmosphere,” Reighard said. “The meet is very competitive, and it really showed tonight.”

The Chippewas had at least one gymnast in the top three of every event with Fagan finishing first of 24 in both of her events.

CMU's next meet is Friday when it hosts Mid-American Conference foe Northern Illinois at 7 p.m. inside McGuirk Arena.