Gymnastics to face Eastern Michigan in a battle of MAC's first-place teams


Connecticut Junior Caroline Fitzpatrick performs a bar routine during CMU gymnastic's Excite Night on Friday, Nov. 20, 2015 at McGuirk Arena. The event gave fans an opportunity to get a better understanding of the sport, watch the team perform and get autographs.

A battle of conference foes, with no bearing on conference standings. 

CMU travels to Ypsilanti at 6:30 p.m. Friday to face off against the 26th-best team in the nation, Eastern Michigan. It will be broadcast on ESPN3. 

The meet was previously known as the Michigan vs. Illinois Classic, which also included Eastern Illinois State and Illinois Chicago. Those teams have since backed out.

"It happened really late in the scheduling season, and neither team was able to replace it," said Head Coach Jerry Reighard. "We just decided that since Eastern was supposed to be the host, that we would at least have a meet."

The Eagles enter the meet 7-1 overall and 2-0 in MAC play.  EMU's best score of the season is 195.05, only slightly below the Chippewas' season best of 195.275.

For CMU, freshman Kasey Janowicz has a chance to win her sixth straight all-around title as the Chippewas attempt to stay perfect with their eighth win on the year.

However, along with EMU's gymnasts, the spirited Eagle fan base presents another challenge. It's a distraction Head Coach Jerry Reighard has grown accustomed to over the course of his 30-year tenure at CMU, but one he said won't stand in the way.

"We call it being in a bubble," Reighard said.  "By that I mean staying unified as a team and shielding each other from distractions. We already know Eastern is going to play a lot of games with us, they’re gonna have people in the crowd that are going to heckle our beam team, or shirtless men with “Eastern” on their chest. That’s just what they do. 

The Chippewas scored four 9.9s or higher last weekend against Ball State, despite not improving on the previous week's score for the first time in 2016. 

"We have to be able to stay within ourselves and do what CMU has done all season long," Reighard said.