CMU wins MAC gymnastics championship

Hannah DeMers and Taylor Pitchell celebrate winning the MAc gymastics championship with one of their coaches, Saturday March 19, at Eastern Michigan University.

About one week ago, Central Michigan’s gymnastics program added to the decorated list of achievements by adding a 2022 regular season title to its resume. 

Apparently, the Chippewas remained unsatisfied.

Eight days later, Central Michigan has earned the ultimate title: 2022 Mid-American Conference Champions — its first MAC Title since 2018. Upon finishing 5-1 in conference matchups, CMU was among the favorites to take home the hardware and it delivered. It's the program's 17th title.  

Following Friday’s victory, CMU now has 17 MAC Titles to its name, starting with its first title in 1990. A bit of quick math paints a picture of just how dominant Central Michigan has been since then; they have won more than half of all of the MAC Gymnastics Titles in this timespan. 

Central Michigan was able to capture the victory by posting an overall team score of 196.275, followed by Northern Illinois’ 196.125, Western Michigan’s 196.075, Ball State’s 195.900, Kent State’s 195.325, Eastern Michigan’s 195.025 and Bowling Green’s 192.550. 

As the final results indicate, it was tightly contested for the duration of the meet. Western Michigan jumped out to an early lead with a 49.300 on the beam and a 49.325 on the floor. Meanwhile, CMU’s first two scores of 49.175 on the bars and 49.200 on the beam were not quite on par with the Broncos. However, Western was not quite able to maintain such a scoring pace, and Central took full advantage.

Western Michigan was not the only program to give the Chippewas a run for their money. Kent State hung around all meet, as did Ball State, but it was Northern Illinois that provided the biggest scare. Heading into the final rotation, the Huskies trailed Central Michigan 146.975-147.200. CMU finished its rotation quicker than NIU (CMU was on vault, NIU on the floor), and were made to sit and watch anxiously as Northern Illinois concluded its rotation. Despite a meet-high mark of 9.950 by NIU’s floor-lineup anchor Tara Kofmehl, CMU’s 49.075 vault score was just enough to keep the Chippewas ahead of Huskies in the end.

When the dust settled and the Central Michigan gymnasts and fans realized they would finish on top, the George Gervin GameAbove Center was injected with life generated by the Central Michigan faithful. In an instant, the tone shifted from anxiety to exhilaration. Central Michigan fans have traveled well all year, but the sheer glee of a championship effort was unmatched by any other previous performance this season. 

Morgan Tong and Taylor Pitchell shared the honors of highest-scoring Chippewas, as both posted marks of 9.900 in their respective events (Pitchell on the floor, Tong on the beam), as well as second-place finishes. Katie Kowalski’s 9.875 on vault earned her a first place finish (along with Western’s Halle Faulkner) and a MAC vault title. Hannah DeMers (9.850) and Sierra DeMarinis (9.825) also earned top-three finishes in the event. 

Lia Kmieciak and DeMers (9.875), along with Adriana Bustelo (9.850), all earned top-three finishes on the bars. Bustelo also earned a top-three finish on the beam with a 9.875. 

The MAC Championship has now come and gone, meaning CMU will now set its sights on the NCAA Regional Championships, which run from March 31st through April 2nd. Times and location have yet to be announced.