Courtesy: CMU Athletic Communications
CMU Wins a Share of its Fourth Consecutive MAC Championship
KALAMAZOO, Mich. – Central Michigan maintained its reign at the pinnacle of MAC gymnastics on Saturday afternoon, winning a share of its fourth consecutive conference crown at the 2013 MAC Championships. The Chippewas scored a 194.800 to tie host Western Michigan for the title.

“Four in-a-row is an incredible feeling,” said CMU head coach Jerry Reighard. “It’s a real testament to the young ladies who have been in the gym every single day. It’s really an answer to a prayer. My entire team, my coaching staff, and our crowd were really instrumental in helping us to get to this point.”

“The young ladies who are seniors on this team have given everything to this program and I couldn’t be happier for them. They have persevered through so many things. To not turn out with four in-a-row would have been devastating for them.”

In the end, a strong collective performance in one event would prove to be the difference to CMU’s title hopes. 

Sitting in third place with two events completed, Central rotated to the floor exercise needing an epic effort to keep pace. The Chippewas put together something special, scoring a season high 49.350, led by their line-up anchor, Halle Moraw. The sophomore’s routine was tremendous and her reward was great, as she scored a career high 9.950 to claim her first conference title.

But the lead-up was just about as good as the finish for CMU. Each member of the floor exercise line-up scored at least a 9.800. Brittany Petzold recorded a career high, receiving a 9.900 while senior Emily LaFontaine, who earned a perfect 10.000 from one of the judges, finished with a 9.825. Freshman Taylor Bolender led off the event with a 9.850.

CMU dug itself an early hole, coming out slowly on the uneven bars in the first rotation. The Chippewas were forced to count a fall, scoring a 48.000, its lowest total in the event since January 18 at Ball State. Sophomore Kylie Fagan highlighted CMU’s effort, scoring a team-high 9.825, which was good enough for third place overall.

After a bye, Central Michigan rotated to the balance beam. After early struggles, Brittany Petzold scored a 9.750 to get the Chippewas heading in the right direction. From there, CMU strung together three consecutive 9.800s, earned by Halle Moraw, Taylor Noonan, and Emily Heinz to boost its final team score to a 48.600.

Following its stellar effort in the floor exercise and a bye, CMU moved to its final event, the vault. Four Chippewas, 
Meaghan McWhorter, Brittany Petzold, Tori Garcia, and Becca Druien, each scored a 9.775, leading them to a team score of 48.825.

Junior Brittany Petzold, who was named MAC Co-Gymnast of the Year following the meet, fell just short of defending her 2012 all-around title, finishing just .050 out of first place with a 39.200.

Kent State, which lead for much of the meet before faltering in the final rotation on balance beam, finished in third (194.775) and was followed by Northern Illinois (194.050), Bowling Green (193.750), Eastern Michigan (193.675), and Ball State (192.500) in the standings.

Entering the MAC Championships with the nation’s No. 22 ranked regional qualifying score (195.810), CMU will now await its NCAA Regional destination. The field of 36 teams, 30 all-around and 24 individual event competitors will be announced during a selection show on Monday, March 25. Regional competition will be held on Saturday, April 6, at the following sites: Tuscaloosa, Ala., Gainesville, Fla., Columbus, Ohio, Norman, Okla., Corvallis, Ore., and Morgantown, W. Va.