Gymnastics, wrestling competing together tonight in second-ever Royal Rumble and Tumble


Central Michigan gymnastics coach Jerry Reighard hugs a member of the team after her routine on the balance beam at McGurirk Arena in Mount Pleasant.

Leotards and singlets. Perfect landings and pins. Flips and leg sweeps.

All these things will be under one roof when the Central Michigan gymnastics and wrestling teams compete simultaneously at 7 p.m. Friday at McGuirk Arena.

Gymnastics, ranked No. 21 in the nation, will host Northern Illinois, and No. 12 wrestling will face Eastern Michigan in the second-ever Royal Rumble and Tumble event.

"There's a lot of men in the crowd that come to watch wrestling that have no idea what gymnastics is all about, and there's many women and a lot of our young girls that would never dream of going to a wrestling match," Reighard said. "I think the crossover there is really a good thing for both teams."

Packing McGuirk Arena with fans of gymnastics and wrestling is the main goal of the event, Reighard said.

The setup for the Royal Rumble and Tumble is different from a regular wrestling or gymnastics meet.

The bleachers will be pulled in and will not be used for seating. The floor for gymnastics and the wrestling mat are side by side, while the bars stay where they always are, Reighard said.

The beam and vault both go at the far side of the arena.

Junior Meaghan McWhorter said the event is a good way to test the organization of the teams.

"It's a different environment," McWhorter said. "You have to make sure that you zone in and focus on your routine at hand. You have to be in the moment."

Both teams are accustomed to loud noises, with both teams having strong fan bases.

“This shouldn’t throw our focus," Borrelli said. "We should only be focusing on our opponent when we wrestle. I think while the guys are sitting down they might turn their heads."

Many teams, Reighard said, aren't willing to share the spotlight with another program.

"We've talked and say, 'Look we're just going to go compete. You guys enjoy it. Have a great time at it, have a hot dog, and we're going to do our thing and everyone will be happy,'" Reighard said.

Fortunately, most of the team experienced the last time this event occurred and know what to expect.

The last time this occurred, the Chippewas wrestling team squeaked out an 18-16 win against Old Dominion.

“I think coach Borrelli does a good job of keeping us focused," said senior 125-pounder Christian Cullinan. "He doesn’t let us get wrapped in what is happening around us; just what we have to do.”