Gymnastics team narrowly defeats Illinois State to open season

The CMU gymnastics team began its season on the road, narrowly defeating Illinois State 191.65-191.47 on Sunday.

CMU scored its highest on the vault and uneven bars and edged ISU by a tenth of a point in the two categories. A team which it had beaten 15 out of the last 20 times, the meet provided an early season challenge in all the events, said coach Jerry Reighard.

“It was a close meet, a lot closer than we would have wanted,” he said.

With a young team including eight freshman and just three seniors, the dynamic for this season will be different following the team’s 19-7 record in 2009. It showed with Reighard starting four freshmen on the balance beam.

Senior Katie Simon finished with the highest score for CMU, scoring a 9.82 on the vaults. Anchoring the team as the last competitor on the vault — CMU’s second event — Reighard said her performance provided an inspirational moment for the team.

“It showed our freshman it is possible,” he said. “We can do this.”

Reighard alluded to the leadership his team displayed, which helped propel the Chippewas to victory in its first meet on the road.

Freshmen Britney Taylor and Emily Lafontaine provided a lift, as well, scoring more than 38 points each in the all-around category.

Reighard said the athlete leading off an event has to set the tone for the rest of the event. He stressed the importance of the position and the confidence he has for that athlete. But he said he understands the pressure which comes from leading an event.

“As I told my team in our team meeting, we weren’t worried about the numbers; we were worried about the performances,” Reighard said.

The team now will shift its focus to the upcoming home meet on Friday against Utah State. Sophomore Kristin Teubner said she has high expectations for the first home meet of the season.

“We want to hit six–of-six on every event, and (to work) on execution to increase our scores,” Teubner said.