MOUNT PLEASANT – Twentieth-ranked Central Michigan gymnastics will take on the No. 1 team in the nation this weekend when it travels to face top-ranked Michigan, host No. 12 Minnesota, and Iowa State in a quad meet in Minneapolis. The four-team competition is scheduled for a 7 p.m. ET start on Saturday at the Golden Gophers’ home venue, the Sports Pavilion.
CMU will look to bounce back from its first loss of the season, a narrow 194.500-194.175 road setback to Ball State. The Chippewas established new season highs in three events, including registering a 49.075 in the balance beam, but CMU could not overcome a subpar set in the uneven bars in the first rotation, which forced it to count two falls.
Sophomores Taylor Noonan and Kylie Fagan and junior Emily Heinz highlighted CMU’s outing versus the Cardinals. Noonan won the balance beam with a career high 9.925, becoming just the fifth Chippewa in program history to ever earn that score, while Fagan captured first in the uneven bars (9.875) for the second straight week. Heinz notched three top three finishes, including a second place effort in the balance beam (9.850).
With its 49.000-plus effort in the balance beam last weekend, CMU moved up to No. 11 nationally in the event. The Chippewas are also ranked No. 24 (tie) in the floor exercise, No. 26 (tie) in the uneven bars, and No. 33 in the vault.
Ranked No. 10 in the preseason coaches’ poll, Michigan has quickly ascended to the top spot with three straight impressive wins to start the 2013 season. Last weekend, the Wolverines recorded the nation’s second highest score thus far this year, posting a 197.350 in a dual meet win over Illinois. As a team, Michigan is ranked No. 2 in the floor exercise and No. 3 in the uneven bars and the balance beam.
Minnesota is off to a fast start to 2013 as well, defeating Washington in its opener and then placing first in a road quad meet with Penn State, Kent State, and Towson. The Golden Gophers are positioned in the top 10 nationally in the vault (No. 6) and the floor exercise (No. 7). Individually, Kayla Slechta is ranked No. 1 (tie) in the vault, averaging a 9.938.
Iowa State has won both meets thus far on its 2013 schedule, beating UW-La Crosse on January 6 and preseason MAC favorite Kent State, 193.625-193.575, last weekend in Ames. The Cyclones received votes in the coaches’ preseason poll but have dropped to No. 45 after two competitions.
CMU has met all three of its opponents this weekend in previous years, posting a 1-0 record versus Minnesota, a 1-3 mark against Iowa State, and winning six of 34 meetings against in-state foe Michigan. Most recently, the Chippewas downed the host Golden Gophers in a tri-meet with Illinois in Champaign in 2011, topping them 194.525- 194.325.
Central Michigan remains on the road next week, visiting the Windy City for a meet that will pit two Michigan teams against two squads from the state of Illinois. The Chippewas will combine with Eastern Michigan to compete against host Illinois-Chicago and Illinois State. Despite the pairing, all team scores will be counted separately. The quad meet is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET on Saturday, Feb. 2 at the Flames’ Physical Education Building in Chicago.