Simon begins bid to repeat 2009 effort

Senior Katie Simon is the CMU gymnastics team’s anchor.

At last year’s Mid-American Conference Championships, she came home with four conference championships. Simon did not win the meet with a 9.7 on balance beam, but her scores on the other three events (9.95 vault; 9.85 on the uneven bars and floor exercise) either placed or tied for first, and also earned her the best all-around score of the meet (39.35).

She already held the final position on each event last year. She continued her work in that role in the season’s first meet.

“I have to be the one to pull through if anything happens,” she said. “There’s a little more pressure but, as a senior, I should be in that spot.”

Coming off her best season, in which she claimed first-team All-MAC honors to go along with her championship performance in Muncie, Ind., she said her goals have remained high since her arrival on campus.

“I expect to win the MAC and go to regionals. I want to be seeded,” Simon said.

The first step in the season came with a close victory last weekend against Illinois State, where Simon scored a 38.575 overall. Her highest individual score came on the last event of the night, where she scored a 9.825 on the vault.

Early on

Simon burst onto the gymnastics scene in 2007, scoring a team-high 30 events of 9.7 or better and 13 events of 9.8 or better. She claimed MAC Freshman of the Year honors and was named second-team All-MAC. As a sophomore, she qualified for the NCAA regional tournament in the all-around category.

Leading the team on the mats, as well as in practice, is something coach Jerry Reighard said he sees as a necessity if the team is going to have a successful season.

“(Katie Simon) is definitely a role model in the gym as far as what we do, and how to perform in the meets,” he said.

Although a majority of this year’s meets will be on the road, Simon said she understands the mental aspect of the sport, regardless of location.

“We just have to do gymnastics, no matter where it is,” she said. With Simon a senior, Reighard said he will rely on her to connect with many of the younger gymnasts, especially the freshmen not used to the level of competition and training at the collegiate level.

“They’ve lived through it and, if they’re sore and tired, so is the whole team,” he said. “It is important for that captain to project that, ‘If I can do it, so can you.’”