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Gymnastics falls to Illinois in NCAA Regional opening dual


Central Michigan and Bowling Green's Women's Gymnastics Teams high-five one another an event Feb. 22 at McGuirk Arena. 

The roller-coaster 2019 season for the Central Michigan gymnastics team has come to an end at the NCAA Regionals in Ann Arbor.

CMU fell to Illinois, 195.325-195.275. The Chippewas did, however, place first in each of the events in the meet itself, but the Fighting Illini had more results towards the top of the leaderboards in each event.

Associate head coach Christine MacDonald said that she knew the dual meet was going to be close. The meet that decided who would continue into the Ann Arbor Regional came down to five-one hundredths of a point. 

"There were some outstanding performances on every event from not only the winner,"  MacDonald said. "There were some other highlights in there as well."

One of those highlights from the Chippewas was junior Denelle Pedrick. The Mid-American Conference Gymnast of the Year won the all-around competition by scoring 39.175. She also won the vault with a 9.825 and shared the victory on the balance beam with senior Skyler Memmel at 9.875.

Illinois had three scores in between Pedrick and sophomore Kennedy Johnson, freshman Sierra DeMarinis and junior Sydney Williams at 9.750.

The Fighting Illini then had four separating Pedrick and Memmel from freshman Morgan Tong at 9.775.

Senior Gianna Plaksa won the uneven parallel bars with a 9.875 score. The next Chippewa on the board was Pedrick in fifth with a 9.750 score, Illinois had three entrants in between Plaksa and Pedrick.

The floor exercise was a bit of a surprise as junior Abbie Zoeller took the win with a 9.825. Pedrick, who normally leads CMU on the floor, finished eighth with a 9.725. 

Williams and sophomore Nora Fettinger finished tied for second with Illinois' Shaylah Scott at 9.800 on the floor.

The teams split the team wins for each rotation with CMU taking the vault with a 48.725 and the floor with 48.900. Illinois won the bars with a 48.925 and the beam with a 49.975 team score. 

Pedrick outscored Karen Howell and Mary Jane Otto of Illinois in the all-around as the two Illinois entries scored a 39.150 in the competition. 

With the Chippewas' loss, Pedrick and Plaksa will now compete in the individual competitions for the all-around and the bars, respectively. The individual competition took place on April 5 at the Crisler Center in Ann Arbor. 

The Fighting Illini guaranteed their spot in the quad meet where they will face No. 2 UCLA, No. 15 Nebraska and West Virginia. The top two teams will move on to take on the top two teams from the other quad meet featuring No. 7 Michigan, No. 10 Alabama, Penn State and Ohio State. 

The top two teams from the final quad of the weekend will advance to the NCAA Championships April 19-20 in Fort Worth, Texas.