Courtesy: Tim Fitzgerald/CMU Athletics
No. 16 Gymnastics Opens MAC Schedule on the Road Versus Ball State
MOUNT PLEASANT – The 16th-ranked Central Michigan gymnastics team will make its first road trip of the season this week, traveling to Muncie, Ind. to face Ball State on Friday, Jan. 18 in the Chippewas’ 2013 MAC opener. The dual meet, which will take place at the Cardinals’ Irving Gymnasium, is scheduled for a 7 p.m. start.

Central Michigan built on its impressive 2013 debut in week two, improving its team score in a 195.050-193.100 victory over New Hampshire in McGuirk Arena. The Chippewas shined in the uneven bars, surpassing the 49.000 barrier in the uneven bars, totaling a 49.075. Sophomore Kylie Fagan won the event with a career high score of 9.850. Freshman Kirsten Petzold and senior Meaghan McWhorter combined to give CMU its other title win, with each scoring a 9.800 in the vault.

The Chippewas have made a strong statement through the season’s first two weeks, which is reflected in its position in the national rankings. CMU is ranked No. 16, 14 spots above MAC preseason favorite Kent State, and is No. 4 in the Central Region behind only SEC powers LSU, Alabama, and Kentucky. In the national team event rankings, CMU is at No. 9 in the uneven bars, No. 16 in the balance beam, No. 23 in the floor exercise, and No. 31 in the vault.

“We have been darn near perfect, as far as hits go,” said CMU head coach Jerry Reighard. “Unfortunately, we can't say we are without an error but, at this point, at least we can say we have not counted a fall. So, I think that’s the next battle cry. Lets it keep that way. Let’s practice that way. That’s going to be the message that I echo to the team this week as we prepare for Ball State.”

Ball State has begun the 2013 season with back-to-back road losses to No. 3 Florida (196.575-190.550) and Iowa (193.475-193.125). Last weekend in Iowa City, the Cardinals had a narrow advantage after three events but Iowa pulled ahead in the final rotation to seal the victory for the Hawkeyes. Ball State senior Brittney Emmons won the all-around with a score of 38.525.

CMU owns a 51-11 record in its all-time series with Ball State. A year ago, the Chippewas downed the Cardinals, 193.350-190.100, in Mount Pleasant. CMU has dominated the MAC of late, outscoring conference opponents in 34 consecutive meetings, including 16 regular season duals and 18 in the postseason, while claiming the last three MAC Championships.

 “We have set goals for ourselves and we are really just trying to stay in our own bubble and focus on our own team,” said sophomore Taylor Noonan. “We know that we can perform at a higher level. We are not just a MAC school; we are a national school. And that’s been our saying and our goal all year. We are going to keep on in that direction and keep driving to get better.”

Central Michigan will face its stiffest challenge of the young 2013 season next week when it meets host No. 12 Minnesota, No. 2 Michigan, and Iowa State in a quad meet in Minneapolis at the Golden Gophers’ Sports Pavilion. The competition is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 26 at 7 p.m.