Courtesy: Tim Fitzgerald/CMU Athletics
Sophomore Becca Druien performs in the floor exercise. Druien posted a career high all-around score of 39.050 to lead No. 21 CMU past Northern Illinois.
All-Arounders Lead No. 21 CMU to MAC Win Over Northern Illinois
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – Behind strong all-around performances by junior Brittany Petzold and sophomore Becca Druien, the No. 21 Central Michigan gymnastics team defeated MAC foe Northern Illinois, 194.800-194.025, on Friday night at McGuirk Arena as part of the second ever Royal Rumble and Tumble. A crowd of 1,498 was undaunted by the snowy weather and freezing temps and turned out to support the gymnastics and wrestling squads.

Petzold, the defending MAC all-around champion, competed in all four events for the first time this season, placing first with a score of 39.075. Druien finished a close second, tallying a career-high total of 39.050. With Petzold and Druien competing, it marked the first time this season that CMU featured two all-arounders in the line-up.

CMU won three of the four events both as a team and individually. Petzold tied for first in the vault (9.825) while Druien claimed the top spot in the uneven bars with a personal best score of 9.850. Junior Emily Heinz was Central’s other title winner, capturing the balance beam crown with a 9.800.

“It’s a MAC win for us and that’s very, very important,” said CMU head coach Jerry Reighard. “It keeps us going in the right direction. The atmosphere was absolutely phenomenal and that was mind-boggling to some our athletes. And that’s fine with me, in fact, I think that’s a really good thing. They have to learn to contend with that.”

After breaching the 49.000 plateau in the vault last week at the Illinois-Michigan Challenge, CMU fell short of replicating that performance versus NIU but managed to record a 48.800 and build a small early lead. Senior Meaghan McWhorter backed-up Petzold’s title-winning performance, finishing third with a score of 9.800. She was followed in the standings by Heinz and freshman Kirsten Petzold.

In the second rotation, CMU slightly expanded its lead by taking the top three spots in the standings. After Druien, sophomores Kylie Fagan (9.825) and Halle Moraw (9.800) helped the Chippewas register a 48.925 in the event.

Heading to the balance beam with a slim .600 lead over the Huskies, CMU faltered a bit and was forced to count a fall, opening the door slightly for NIU. Despite scoring lower than Northern Illinois in the event, Heinz placed first while Druien notched another career high (9.775) to finish in second.

Needing a solid showing the floor exercise to pull out the conference win, the Chippewas got it, scoring a 48.900. Moraw finished in second place (9.850) while Brittany Petzold came in third (9.850) to lead CMU.

“There were a few things on floor that seriously could have been disastrous, the landings and the positions were tentative. But the fight was very evident. We got decent scores out of it. All-in-all, it was a great learning experience for some of our young kids.”

“Like most coaches, I don’t think luck has anything to do with anything. We were fortunate to get the tenths when we needed them and that really made the difference.”

The No. 12 CMU wrestling team helped the Chippewas post a 2-0 mark for the evening, easing past Eastern Michigan, 31-6.

Central Michigan returns to the road next weekend, traveling to northeast Ohio for a showdown with MAC preseason favorite No. 24 Kent State. The three-time defending conference champion Chippewas and the Golden Flashes will meet on Friday, Feb. 15 at 7 p.m. at the Memorial Athletic and Convocation Center in Kent. CMU defeated Kent State twice last season, head-to-head in a dual meet in Mount Pleasant (194.475-193.550) and at the MAC Championships (195.625-195.225).