Courtesy: Tim Fitzgerald/CMU Athletics
Brittany Petzold is the reigning MAC all-around champion
Gymnastics Hosts UW-Eau Claire Saturday in 2013 Season Opener

MOUNT PLEASANT – The three-time defending MAC champion Central Michigan gymnastics team will open the 2013 season on Saturday when it hosts Wisconsin-Eau Claire for a 2 p.m. dual meet in McGuirk Arena.

Saturday is Club Day at CMU, with local gymnastics clubs and teams specially invited to attend the meet.

The competition versus UWEC kicks off a 2013 home schedule that also includes non-conference match-ups with New Hampshire (January 11) and Alaska Anchorage (March 7) and MAC meets against Northern Illinois (February 8), Bowling Green (March 2), and Eastern Michigan (March 16).

Twenty-nine year head coach Jerry Reighard, the 2012 MAC Coach of the Year, returns three First Team All-MAC performers in senior Meaghan McWhorter, junior Brittany Petzold, and sophomore Taylor Noonan for 2013. McWhorter, the 2012 MAC champion in the vault, along with fellow senior Kari Dieffenderfer, posted CMU’s top score in the vault a year ago, a 9.900. Petzold, who also recorded the Chippewas’ top score in the uneven bars last season (9.875), is the reigning MAC champion in the all-around. Noonan, in her freshman campaign, shared the 2012 MAC title in the balance beam.

Bolstering the CMU roster is a group of six talented newcomers, which includes Taylor Bolender, Jordan Charrette, Alexis Lajeunesse, Megan Lamphere, Kirsten Petzold, and Karlee Teet, who are expected to make an impact on the 2013 season.

CMU was recently voted to place third in the MAC in 2013 in the conference preseason coaches’ poll, behind favorite Kent State and Western Michigan. The Chippewas face the Golden Flashes and the Broncos on the road in back-to-back weeks in February.

Wisconsin-Eau Claire, which competes at the Division III level in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, is led by nine-year head coach Jean DeLisle, the 2012 WIAC Coach of the Year. Last season, the Blugolds placed third at the WIAC Championships and fifth at the National Collegiate Gymnastics Association Championships. Returning to headline UWEC in 2013 are All-Americans Olivia Aschenbrenner and Danielle Schulzetenberg and national balance beam champion Michaela McCamey.

Central Michigan is back in action next week, as it welcomes New Hampshire to McGuirk Arena for a 7 p.m. dual meet on Friday, Jan. 11.