Gymnastics look to capture MAC Championships March 24
Central Michigan gymnastics will compete in the 2018 Mid-American Conference Championship Saturday as the favorite to win the tournament.
This is the first time CMU has hosted since 2011. The meet will begin at 2 p.m. in McGuirk Arena, March 24.
Competing at home will mean a great deal in Saturday's meet, said head coach Jerry Reighard.
“It provides a comfort level of being able to sleep in your own bed, not getting on a bus and travelling, and having a crowd behind you to cheer you on every step of the way,” he said.
CMU finished the 2018 regular season at 8-8, with the best record in the Mid-American Conference (5-1 in MAC).
On March 15, the Chippewas secured the regular season championship after a victory over Ball State, 196.175-195.125.
In last season’s MAC Championship in Bowling Green, Ohio CMU gymnastics posted a third-place finish behind the winner, Eastern Michigan, and host Bowling Green.
Before the 2018 season started, the Chippewas were picked to win the MAC Championships in the MAC Coaches' Poll.
The poll was a good indicator of what the team is capable of, said seniors Katy Clements and Bryttany Kaplan.
“People believed in us before the season started, and we’re a much better team than the one in January,” Clements said.
After the regular season, Northern Illinois, Kent State and Eastern Michigan finished behind the Chippewas for second, third, and fourth in the MAC.
“The confidence we have in ourselves will be brought tomorrow,” Kaplan said. “And we’ll have a home crowd to cheer us on when we show out.”
Despite not being ranked No. 1 in the MAC, KSU is currently ranked three spots better than the No. 35 Chippewas in average score per meet.
KSU is on a three-meet winning streak after competing in the KSU Tri-Meet on March 16.
The last time KSU competed against CMU, the Chippewas secured a .025-point win over the Golden Flashes on Feb. 18. The meet came down to the final performance from Clements. She posted a 9.925 on floor to give the Chippewas the .025 needed for the conference win.
Northern Illinois is No. 2 in the MAC this season. NIU has lost to CMU, KSU, and Bowling Green State University during the regular season. Northern Illinois defeated Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan and Ball State.
The Huskies are coming off a loss to BGSU on March 17, 196.475-195.7.
NIU also finished No. 3 in the Illinois State Championship Meet against Illinois, Illinois State, and the University of Illinois at Chicago on March 11.
NIU finished fifth in last year's competition – posting a score of 195.725.
Eastern Michigan will look to defend their title in the MAC Championships. The Eagles are back-to-back conference champions.
EMU currently sits with a 8-7 record (3-3 in MAC). The Eagles most recent win comes against Western Michigan on March 16.
The Chippewas overtook the MAC champion, winning 194.525-194.025, against EMU earlier this season. CMU won three out of four events.
CMU’s lowest scoring apparatus of the season comes on the beam, where the team averages 48.614 per meet.
“I think everybody in the crowd feels that balance beam is the most difficult,” he said. “It’s challenging, but no one event is more important than the other. We just need to hit five out six routines on each rotation. The team that does that will be the MAC champion.”
CMU will need to stay composed in the MAC Championships, Kaplan said.
“Gymnastics is a sport with no offense or defense, so other teams can’t really pose a traditional threat like in most sports,” Kaplan said. “We can only control our gymnastics, so we can either be our worst enemy, or help ourselves be the conference champions like we want to.”