Gymnastics heads to Kent in search of sixth consecutive MAC Championship


Colorado senior Taylor Noonan performs a leap on the balance beam during the Chippewas gymnastics meet Feb. 15 at Western Michigan University. Noonan scored a 9.9 on beam in Saturday's MAC Championships and earned a share of the individual title on beam.

The Central Michigan University gymnastics team has the opportunity to make history when No. 21 CMU heads to Kent State University for the Mid-American Conference Championship Meet at 2 p.m. on Saturday.

The Chippewas have never won six consecutive MAC titles in program history, but will attempt to do so this weekend.

A stellar performance during the second half of the regular season propelled Head Coach Jerry Reighard’s squad into the National College Athletics Association Top 25. Four CMU gymnasts earned All-MAC honors as the Chippewas claimed the program’s first MAC regular season title since 2012.

CMU broke the 196 mark three times during the second half of the season. Reighard said the Chippewas need to continue their stride in order to make program history this weekend.

“We just have to be consistent,” Reighard said. “If we are the team we have been, we shouldn't have a problem with winning the championship. 49.1 on each event is the goal.”

That goal would give CMU a team total of 196.4, the same score the Chippewas notched the last time they visited Kent State.

One threat to CMU’s MAC title hope is Northern Illinois University. The Huskies handed the Chippewas a defeat Feb. 6, CMU’s only conference loss of the season.

NIU has won its last three competitions and took over the No. 2 spot in the MAC standings last week by defeating Eastern Michigan University while setting a school record scoring 195.8.

Amanda Stepp, an NIU senior, won MAC Gymnast of the Week with a pair of 9.9s and a 9.85 on beam.

With a combined record of 13-5, EMU has seen more competition than any other team this season. Senior all-arounder Anna Willette is the gymnast to watch for the Eagles.

Willette was named to first team All-MAC and consistently scored at least 39.1 in her events.

However, EMU is 3-3 away from Ypsilanti this season.

For the Chippewas to finish the season with a historic high note, they must focus on winning individual championships.

“My personal goal is to get a best on both of my events (bars and beam),” senior Kylie Fagan said. “ (I’m) Still looking for that 10 on bars.”

Fagan is looking to repeat her performance last season and win a second consecutive bars title.

CMU has an Olympic rotation, a vital advantage to start on vault and finish on floor like any home dual meet.

“Its definitely a good thing to be able to perform there and on their equipment,” Reighard said. “It is very orchestrated and it is a chance for use to get comfortable with the setting.”