Courtesy: Tim Fitzgerald/CMU Athletics
No. 16 Gymnastics Drops MAC Opener at Ball State
MUNCIE, Ind. – The 16th-ranked Central Michigan gymnastics team could not recover from a slow start in its MAC opener versus Ball State and a valiant rally attempt came up short, as the Chippewas fell to the Cardinals, 194.500-194.175, on Friday night in Muncie. The loss halted CMU’s streak of outscoring conference opponents at 34 consecutive meetings.

A week after surpassing the 49.000 plateau in the uneven bars, Central Michigan struggled in the event in the first rotation. Sophomore Kylie Fagan placed first for the second straight week with a career high, scoring a 9.875, but CMU was forced to count two falls and posted a season low 47.825.

“The way we started out definitely empowered Ball State,” said CMU head coach Jerry Reighard. “And that’s not where you want to be. At that point, we went from a team that did not have any falls in the opener, to not counting any falls, to putting ourselves in a position that we could not overcome.”

“We just started pressing after that. I thought we responded reasonably well. But the circumstances were such that (Ball State) had to help us and they didn’t.”

In rotation two, the Chippewas bounced back to score a season high 48.775 in the vault. Senior Meaghan McWhorter led CMU with second place finish (9.825) while junior Emily Heinz and freshman Kirsten Petzold tied for third with scores of 9.775.

CMU’s struggles returned in rotation three on the floor exercise, as it recorded a season low score of 48.500 as a team. Competing for the first time in the event this season, Heinz led the Chippewas with a third place score of 9.775.

CMU finished strong, nearly completing the comeback with a stellar effort in the final rotation on the balance beam. The Chippewas breached the 49.000 mark in an event for the second time in two weeks, scoring a season best 49.075. Taylor Noonan took the title with a 9.925, a career high for the sophomore and tied for fifth highest score in CMU program history. Heinz again contributed a solid performance, placing third with a personal best score of 9.850. Sophomore Halle Moraw tied for third (9.825).

Central Michigan will be on the road again next week when it travels to meet 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.