Gymnastics showed perserverance in more ways than one against EMU


Central Michigan coach Jerry Reighard walks over to the floor as the gymnastics team prepares for the final event of the evening Feb. 15 at McGuirk Arena.

Denelle Pedrick completed her dismount on the balance beam to an eruption from the crowd in McGuirk Arena. 

It was an eruption that the Central Michigan gymnastics team had not heard since defeating Illinois State on Jan. 11. 

The Chippewas had been on the road until their win over Eastern Michigan on Feb. 15. In that span, CMU picked up six wins on the road and only dropped one to then eighth-ranked Denver in a quad meet. Its road trip was capped off Feb. 10 at Kent State

Following the victory over the Eagles, the Chippewas are 10-1 and 3-0 in the Mid-American Conference. Head coach Jerry Reighard said that much of his team's success is attributed to preparation. 

"My staff does a great job of making sure everyone knows exactly where they're supposed to be and how to do things," Reighard said. "We're very meticulous and that lends a comfort." 

Reighard continued by saying that those who have never experienced competing on the road as a NCAA Division I athlete would not understand the difficulty of doing so, and doing so for over a month. 

Needless to say, competing at home again made a difference. 

"It's good for our athletes to sleep in their own beds," Reighard said. "That's the kind of comfort you can't get on the road, everything down to the meals that they eat." 

The mental toughness that CMU displayed throughout its road trip to Denver, Western Michigan, Illinois State and Kent State resulted in victory after victory. Stretches like these are the ones that Reighard says will be great for his team as they march for the postseason.

On that march, the Chippewas had to pick up contributions from a number of different sources. Against EMU, Pedrick took a fall during her routine on the uneven parallel bars. Senior Gianna Plaksa stepped up in a big way for the Chippewas and led her team despite injuring her leg last week and taking a hard fall in warmup against EMU.

Plaksa was scheduled to start on the balance beam and the floor but did not due to her injury. 

Freshman Morgan Tong took her turn to step up and fill in for the injured Plaksa. She scored 9.725 in her only scheduled event on the vault, but she added a 9.800 in each the beam and floor exercise to fill the void by the senior. 

"I perform for something bigger than myself," Tong said. "I wanted to feel every motion and fight through everything. I love this team and I want us to do great, and I know we have the potential."