Gymnastics hosts Kent State Sunday in annual rivalry


Sophomore Gianna Plaksa smiles during her floor routine during the meet against Western Michigan University at McGuirk Arena, Sunday, Feb. 21, 2016.

The Central Michigan gymnastics team achieved its goal of scoring above a 196 for the first time this season on Sunday. But CMU (11-1, 3-0 Mid-American Conference) wasn't the only team to score a 196.125 last week. 

Kent State (6-3, 4-0 MAC) earned the same score against Bowling Green. The two teams meet up at 7 p.m. Sunday at McGuirk Arena.

"This is the annual show down," said Head Coach Jerry Reighard. "This is a very important meet, but I'm not saying it's a real tough meet. I truly believe we're a better team, but the day of the competition will tell. Whoever is average is not going to win."

CMU and KSU are two of the three teams undefeated in MAC play, with Eastern Michigan being the third. All three rank in the top 34 in the nation. EMU is 21st, CMU is 26th and KSU is 34th.

Reighard said this meet usually determines the regular season champion. CMU beat Kent State last season to earn the regular season title, but the Golden Flashes topped the Chippewas in the MAC Championships in Kent by one-tenth of a point.

Since 1988, either CMU and Kent State has won the MAC Championship in all but three seasons.

"It's pretty important because we want to be regular season MAC champions," said senior Karlee Teet. "In order to be undefeated in the MAC, we need to dominate them and just keep moving from there."

Landing the 196 was a confidence booster for the Chippewas, Reighard said.

"It was a positive time for us," Reighard said. "I would rather that 196 come earlier in the season, but it's not like it's too late. We can build off that. It really helped with our confidence and getting over that threshold is something we had to accomplish. It also helped us nationally."

For the seniors, Sunday will be their last meet in the McGuirk Arena.

"I'm going into it having fun, do my routines, and do the best I can," Teet said. "I'm not going to force anything and just enjoy the environment, enjoy the team, and the crowd. I'm going to enjoy it the most I can."