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Gymnastics' comeback falls just short to Kent State


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Freshman Mayleigh Vanderbeek competes on the balance beam during Central Michigan's Feb. 16 dual against Kent State in McGuirk Arena.

Central Michigan’s comeback came down to an inquiry. 

After tying the Mid-American Conference dual against Kent State in the fourth rotation, the Golden Flashes submitted an inquiry about one of their gymnast's starting rates — and were awarded an extra tenth of a point. 

That tenth of a point was the difference as the Chippewas fell to the Golden Flashes, 195.175-195.075, Sunday in McGuirk Arena. 

"It sucks when it comes down to an inquiry," said senior Denelle Pedrick. "But it's just extra motivation in the gym for that extra tenth because you never know when it's going to come in handy and it's definitely a stepping stone for us." 

Christine MacDonald coached her first dual as the Chippewas' head coach after serving as an assistant coach for 25 years. 

Before Sunday's meet, MacDonald said the Chippewas were going to be shorthanded due to injury and needed to make a substitution to the lineup. 

“We knew the start value would be lower and we were willing to take it on,” MacDonald said. “We knew all we could control was our performances. Overall, this team continues to show resilience.”

CMU opened the meet on the vault and Pedrick scored a 9.825 on the vault to lead CMU in the first rotation. Kent State’s sophomore Kendra Lindway tied with Pedrick on vault with a 9.825. The vault was KSU's second rotation of the day. 

After the first rotation, which had KSU on the uneven parallel bars, the Golden Flashes led 48.900-48.300 – putting the Chippewas in a deep hole to open the meet.

"We trust everyone wholeheartedly with their gymnastics and every routine," Pedrick said. "I'm not too sure where that came from but we know now how to start." 

Chippewa freshman Hannah Demers, along with Pedrick, scored a career-high of 9.900 on bars to conclude the second rotation. Rachel Decavitch led Kent State with a 9.850. 

In the third rotation, the Chippewas hit the balance beam and the Golden Flashes took the floor exercise.

CMU notched four scores of 9.700 or better. Sophomores Sierra Demarinis and Morgan Tong led with a 9.850 posting. Pedrick and freshman Mayleigh Vanderbeek rounded out the Chippewa scoring with 9.825 and 9.775, respectively. 

Tong reflected on having a MacDonald bring a fun culture to the team and making the gym feel like a home.

“She’s really emphasized the details and I know that pays off in our routines,” said Tong. “It’s really good having her as a head coach.”

Kent State picked up six scores of 9.700 or higher on the floor exercise and ended with a total of 49.025. The third rotation concluded with Kent State ahead, 146.850-145.925.

In CMU's turn on the floor, the Chippewas also notched six scores of 9.700 or higher with freshman Taylor Pritchell leading 9.875 and Pedrick put up a score of 9.850. CMU notched a 49.000 as a team while Kent State put up a 48.325 on the balance beam.

In the all-around competition, Pedrick beat out Deavitch 39.400-39.125. 

After the inquiry, Kent State was awarded its ninth consecutive victory. 

Despite the loss, the team's third straight, the MAC Championships are still the top goal for the Chippewas.

"We have a full week going into the next MAC meet," Pedrick said. "We're going to work for that extra tenth per person and bump our scores up for a good national qualifying score." 

CMU hits the road to face Bowling Green at 6 p.m. Feb. 21 at Anderson Arena in Bowling Green, Ohio.

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