Gymnastics wins 16th MAC Championship in McGuirk Arena

Central Michigan gymnastics won the Mid-American Conference Championship March 24 in McGuirk Arena with a score of 197.025 – the team's third-highest score in any meet in program history.

Northern Illinois finished behind the Chippewas with a score of 195.85, and Bowling Green came in third.

The Chippewa snapped Eastern Michigan’s streak of back-to-back MAC Championships in 2016 and 2017. The Eagles finished fourth at 195.275. 

Western Michigan, Kent State and Ball State rounded out the competition with scores of 194.775, 194.375 and 194.225, respectively.

Competition summary

The Chippewas opened with a 48.975 score on the vault. Sophomore Sydney Williams finished with a 9.85, locking her in a four-way tie for best vault score to secure a share of the 2018 MAC Vault Champion award. Williams' 9.85 is a season-and-career-high for CMU.

Alongside Williams, the 2018 MAC Vault Champions are NIU senior Ashley Potts and sophomore Amanda Bartemio and Bowling Green sophomore Jovannah East.

CMU dominated on the uneven bars — finishing with a match-high score of 49.4.

Three Chippewas tied for second in the bars competition for the 2018 MAC Champion title. Senior Bryttany Kaplan, junior Gianna Plaksa and sophomore Hayley Porter finishing with 9.9 scores.

WMU freshman Stacey Harrison took home the individual title on the bars with a score of 9.925. 

CMU continued to make strides to secure the MAC Championship as they competed on the beam. The Chippewas finished with a 49.475 score — tying their program-high previously set in 2004 against Eastern Michigan.

Senior Katy Clements finished with the highest beam score of 9.95 – making her the 2018 MAC Beam Champion. Two more Chippewas finished with career-highs as both Plaksa and Denelle Pedrick landed a 9.9 score on the rotation.

To cap off their victory, the Chippewas took to the floor for the final rotation of the night and danced their way to the highest rotation score of 49.175.

After four performances on the floor, the Chippewas were on pace to secure a 49.1 score, however Pedrick tumbled toward the end of her performance.

“When Denelle went down, I was a little pasted,” Reighard said. “Then I realized that we had Katy up next. She’s a show off, which is what you have to be on floor, and she’s incredibly strong. 

“Going into her last pass on the event, all I was saying was ‘land, Katy, just land.' She did, and capped off a great performance from us.” 

Clements finished tied as the runner-up for 2018 MAC Floor Champion as she posted a 9.9 score. Kent State gymnast freshman Abby Fletcher secured the title when she posted a 9.925 KSU performance in the fifth rotation.

Plaksa is the 2018 MAC All-Around Gymnast, as she posted a 39.35 in the conference meet.

This is the 16th MAC title under head coach Jerry Reighard.

"It's absolutely great, don't get me wrong, but it's much more rewarding to give our athletes a ring and win the championship," Reighard said. "Today, I greeted about 85 alumni, all of which never left the university without receiving a ring. Continuing that is a great benefit of doing this."

Other postseason awards

Western Michigan freshman Morgan Spence won the 2018 MAC Freshman of the Year Award.

Kent State gymnast Rachel Stypinski won the MAC Gymnast of the Year Award for the third straight year. She also won 2018 MAC Senior Gymnast of the Year, even without competing in the MAC Championships. 

Junior Husky Anna Martucci won the 2018 MAC Specialist of the Year Award. She’s the fifth NIU gymnast to win the award. The 2018 MAC Coach of the Year Award went to 10-time winner KSU head coach Brice Biggin.