Gymnastics records season-high score in win against NIU on senior day

After contributing to one of the highest team scores in program history in her final appearance as a Central Michigan gymnast, senior Rachel Carr had nothing but confidence in her team as the Mid-American Conference Championships approaches. 

"We're excited, we know that we will win MAC," Carr said. "Its exciting to know that we still have so much more to show."

CMU defeated NIU 196.575-196.150 on senior day in McGuirk Arena. The score was a season high and the fifth best finish in program history. 

Following the previous week's performance where CMU earned its first 196 of the season against Rutgers, senior day was far from the let down head coach Jerry Reighard was weary of entering the meet against NIU.

"When you have a peak like that, often times there's a let down like, 'oh we've got this'," Reighard said. "When athletes can deliver that same enthusiasm in practice, especially at the end of the season, you have a really good feeling about what's going to happen and it turned out really well for us."

In their final performances in McGuirk, seniors Caroline Fitzpatrick and Kirstin Stambaugh each tied their career best scores, with Fitzpatrick on the beam (9.9) and Stambaugh in the vault (9.825).

"All of the hard work is paying off now," Fitzpatrick said. "It's a great feeling knowing we contributed to this and we went out on a huge highlight."

Before the start of the meet, a group of CMU gymnastics alumni gathered on the floor and was introduced prior to the team introductions. Reighard said he looks forward to senior day every year for this reason, and expressed how much it means to him to see some familiar faces in McGuirk.

"This is one of my favorite days," Reighard said. "Its always nice to know that they're there and it brings back a flush of memories as I look at each individual, so its a great day for me."

Confidence running high

CMU now holds the best score of the season by any school in the MAC (196.575) heading into MAC Championships next weekend. Just six weeks ago, Reighard was looking at the MAC standings and made the determination that it would take a 196.6 to win the conference.

After today's performance, he felt much more confident that winning the conference could become a reality for his team.

"My confidence level just got lifted tremendously," Reighard said. "It's not like we've got to create something now. Quite honestly, I'll take a duplication of this meet a week from today and I think we'll be in the driver's seat."

CMU competes in the MAC Championships at 2 p.m. next Saturday in Bowling Green.