Chippewas suffer first loss of the season against Southern Utah


Junior all-around Abbie Rose Zoeller performs her beam routine on Feb. 2 at McGuirk Arena.

Central Michigan gymnastics fell flat against a young Southern Utah squad Friday night at McGuirk Arena as the team lost their first meet of the year 195.825-195.675.

This was the Chippewas' (4-1, 3-0 Mid-American Conference) first time losing more than two events in a meet. Senior Katy Clements and junior Gianna Plaksa led CMU as they were the only gymnast to get at least 9.900 scores.

Head coach Jerry Reighard said the team was disappointed and shocked at the loss. 

“Undoubtedly, I will make some lineup changes against Illinois State,” Reighard said. 

The Thunderbirds (1-3, 0-3 Mountain Rim Gymnastics Conference) are a young team consisting of mainly sophomores and freshmen who elevated their play versus the Chippewas, besting their previous best score of 194.475 by 1.350 points.

“They (Southern Utah) came in a little more hungry.” Reighard said. “You could just tell they had something to prove and it was evident from vaulting all the way through the meet.”

For the third time this season sophomore Denelle Pedrick scored a 9.875 on the vault but it was not enough for CMU as SU took the event 49.000 to 48.800.

Plaksa continues to increase her uneven bars score this season, posting a season-high 9.900 in leading the Chippewas to their only event win of the evening over the Thunderbirds 49.000 to 48.825.

Ranking 5th in the nation on the balance beam prior to the meet, Clements remained a force as she posted her second 9.925 score this season on the beam. Despite Clements strong performance SU won the event 49.025 to 48.950 as four Thunderbirds scored at least a 9.800 on the beam.

CMU trailed SU 146.800 to 146.750 heading into the final rotation as the team continues to change to floor exercise lineup after senior Macey Hilliker’s injury. The team posted a respectable 48.925 score on the floor but came just short of SU’s 48.975.

“We had some great performances and some mediocre one’s and at our level you can’t have a mediocre that counts,” Reighard said. “It was a tough loss for us but I believe good things come from being tough.” 

Next week the Chippewas face a familiar opponent as the team travels to Illinois State to play the Redbirds at 7 p.m. on Feb. 9 at Redbird Arena. CMU previously faced ISU in their opening meet this season, winning 196.375-191.600.