Back-to-back regular season MAC titles for CMU gymnastics


Central Michigan University's gymnastics team poses for a team portrait March 15 in McGuirk Arena.

Gymnastics captured its second-straight Mid-American Conference regular season title Friday night.

The Chippewas defeated Northern Illinois, 196.250-195.275, setting a new season-high in total points.

Central Michigan (13-2, 6-0 Mid-American Conference) was led once again by junior Denelle Pedrick, who was named MAC gymnast of the week Tuesday.

While Pedrick was impressive, the senior leadership is what motivated the group to perform so well on Senior Night.

“They’re the heart of our team, and we’ve always said we win with our seniors,” said associate coach Christine MacDonald, when asked about the importance of seniority.

CMU got off to a hot start by posting a season-high 49.325 team score on the vault in the first rotation. Each gymnast posted a score of 9.800 or better. Junior Sydney Williams logged a 9.925 to lead the team.

In the second rotation, the Chippewas had a team score of 48.925 on the uneven parallel bars. Senior Gianna Plaksa had a season-high 9.875 in her only routine for the night. At the halfway point CMU led, 98.250-97.625.

For the third rotation, CMU was on the balance beam posting a team score of 48.925. Pedrick and senior Skyler Memmel led the Chippewas with 9.850 each. The Chippewas maintained a narrow lead, 147.175-146.575, despite a strong effort during the floor routines for NIU, including Anna Martucci with a 9.900.

The final rotation for CMU was the floor. The Chippewas were again led by a strong performance from Pedrick, who posted a score of 9.925. The team posted a total of 49.075 to ensure their wire-to-wire victory.

After the meet, Plaksa discussed how such strong performances in the final weeks of the regular season impact the team heading into the conference championships.

“We’re peaking at the right time, we just have to keep doing what we do every day in the gym,” Plaksa said.

The next challenge for CMU is the MAC Championships at 2 p.m. March 23 at the NIU Convocation Center in DeKalb, Illinois.

Gymnastics head coach Jerry Reighard remains on paid administrative leave, as he has been since Feb. 20. There have been no new updates from the CMU Athletic Department since the investigation began. It is unclear if Reighard will be reinstated to lead the Chippewas in the MAC Championships.