MOUNT PLEASANT – The Central Michigan gymnastics team will compete at home for the final time in the month of January on Friday evening when it hosts New Hampshire for a 7 p.m. dual meet in McGuirk Arena.
Friday’s meet will serve as a “Welcome Back” event for CMU students returning from winter break, with double Chip Rewards points being awarded to those in attendance. Also, a PS3 will be raffled off. The CMU marketing staff will pass out raffle tickets with the winner to be announced later via the official Central Michigan gymnastics Twitter account (@CMUGymnastics).
Following the competition, the team will be presented with its 2012 MAC Championship rings in a special ceremony. An autograph session in the concourse of McGuirk Arena will also take place after the meet. Anyone getting all of the gymnasts’ signatures from each of the post-meet autograph sessions this season will be eligible to get their photo taken with the team at the final competition (March 16 vs. Eastern Michigan).
Central Michigan made a strong statement in its season opener last weekend, scoring a 194.975 in a victory over UW-Eau Claire (180.150). The Chippewas’ team total was the highest-ever posted by a Jerry Reighard-led squad in a season opener and outscored several preseason nationally ranked teams including No. 9 Oregon State, No. 13 Auburn, No. 14 Ohio State, No. 16 Penn State, No. 19 Arizona, and No. 20 Denver. While official rankings will not come out until after this weekend’s competition’s, CMU’s week-one score would currently position the Chippewas at No. 11 nationally.
CMU led wire-to-wire versus the Blugolds, winning all four events as a team while taking the top six spots in the vault, uneven bars, and balance beam. Individually, sophomore Halle Moraw captured titles in the balance beam (9.850) and floor exercise (9.850) to lead the Chippewas. Freshman Kirsten Petzold got her collegiate career off to a fast start, winning her first title in the first event in which she competed, the vault, scoring a 9.825. Senior Emily LaFontaine claimed the uneven bars crown, posting a winning score of 9.825. Sophomore Becca Druien won the all-around unopposed (38.725), finishing second in the floor exercise (9.800), fourth in the uneven bars (9.750) and balance beam (9.650), and sixth in the vault (9.525).
New Hampshire began the 2013 season on a high note last weekend, defeating conference foe Rutgers, 194.850-192.800, at the Wildcats’ Lundholm Gymnasium. Senior all-arounder Austyn Fobes dominated the competition, placing first in the vault (9.850), uneven bars (9.875), and floor exercise (9.875) en route to capturing the vault title with a career-high score of 39.425. Kayla Gray won the balance beam with a score of 9.875 while Hannah Barile tied Fobes for the top spot in the balance beam.
New Hampshire was selected to place third in the East Atlantic Gymnastics League in 2013, behind only preseason No. 22 North Carolina State and Maryland (RV). UNH was 14-10 a year ago, earning a spot in the NCAA Regional Championships, marking the Wildcats’ 32nd postseason appearance in head coach Gail Goodspeed's 33 years at UNH.
Central Michigan is 5-0 all-time versus New Hampshire, last meeting the Wildcats in a tri-meet in 2011 in Durham. The Chippewas posted a score of 195.700 to down UNH (195.225) and Brown (193.675).
CMU will travel for the first time this season next week, visiting Ball State for its 2013 MAC opener. The Chippewas and the Cardinals will clash on Friday, Jan. 18 at 7 p.m. in Irving Gymnasium in Muncie, Ind. A year ago, Central Michigan downed Ball State, 193.350-190.100, in Mount Pleasant, winning all four events both individually and as a team.