Gymnastics finishes season at home against Ball State, host MAC Championships


Junior All-around Gianna Plaksa performs her beam routine on Feb. 18 at McGuirk Arena.

Even though it will be senior night for the Central Michigan gymnastics team on March 15, it will not be the last time the seniors compete in McGuirk Arena. 

Chippewa seniors Courtney Campbell, Katy Clements, Macey Hilliker, Bryttany Kaplan and Miranda Wieczorek have the opportunity to win a Mid-American Conference Championship in McGuirk Arena at the end of this season. 

The Chippewas (7-8, 4-1 in MAC) host Ball State in the regular season finale and last conference match of the season at 7 p.m. March 15 in McGuirk Arena. Following the Ball State meet, CMU hosts the 2018 MAC Championships at 2 p.m. March 24. The event will be broadcasted on ESPN3. 

CMU is coming off a tri-meet in Columbus, Ohio where it finished third behind North Carolina State and Ohio State. 

Head coach Jerry Reighard was not happy with the team's performance in the tri-meet, despite injuries. 

“It’s not what I see in the gym from them,” Reighard said. “The younger gymnasts are stepping up and giving their best in competition, but we struggle when we’ve been in competition lately. Because of injuries to Macey and now Abby Zoeller, we’re trying to take our seventh and eighth best person on the team and replace some of our best.”

In the tri-meet, Clements posted a 9.225 on the beam. This was her lowest score of the season. Despite the third-place finish, Chippewa gymnasts Kaplan and Kennedy Rae Johnson set career high scores on the vault. 

“It was a performance from them we see every day in practice,” Reighard said. “They are capable of earning those scores and we got to see that happen.”

Reighard and the gymnastics team have a storied history in the MAC Championships. The Chippewas have a conference-high 15 MAC Championships, and Reighard has coached every one. Reighard's most recent MAC Championship was in the 2014 season, when the team posted a score of 196.475 in Ypsilanti, Michigan. 

Since 2010, CMU has won the MAC Championship five times. The last time the MAC Championships were hosted at CMU was in 2004, when the Chippewas placed first. 

CMU sits at No. 1 in the MAC standings. The Chippewas are the only team with four wins in MAC play this season. Ball State, however, is fourth out of seven teams. The only team to beat CMU this season was Bowling Green in a tri-meet with CMU and Ohio State. 

The Chippewas are the favorites to win the MAC Regular Season Championship if they win the meet against Ball State. The title is given to the team that has the best conference record after the regular season has finished.