MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – In 2013, Central Michigan gymnastics added another chapter to its storied program history, making its mark at both the conference and national levels.
Once again, the Chippewas took their familiar place at the pinnacle of MAC gymnastics, capturing a share of its fourth consecutive conference crown. Ranked No. 24 at the conclusion of the regular season, CMU qualified for the NCAA postseason for the fifth consecutive year, earning a trip to Columbus, Ohio for regional competition.
The 2013 campaign featured numerous memorable team moments and accomplishments.
The Chippewas started the 2013 red hot, scoring a 194.975 in the opener versus UW-Eau Claire, the highest team total in a season debut for a team under the direction of legendary coach Jerry Reighard. Central reached the coveted 196.000 plateau not once but twice, scoring a team season high 196.125 versus Bowling Green on March 2 and then following it up with a 196.000 against Eastern Michigan in the regular season finale. Floor exercise emerged as the cornerstone event for CMU in 2013, as it scored above the 49.000 benchmark in each of the final six meets of the season.
Individually, Central Michigan had its veteran performers lead from the front and saw the emergence of a few new young stars. Collectively, Chippewas set or tie 33 personal best records in 2013, led by sophomore Becca Druien who established career highs in all four events and the all-around.
CMU gymnasts once again collected an abundance of awards in 2013. Junior Brittany Petzold was named MAC Co-Gymast of the Year and earned First Team All-MAC recognition while sophomores Halle Moraw and Taylor Noonan earned Second Team All-MAC honors.
Petzold fought through injuries early in the season to become the MAC’s No. 1 all-arounder and secure top 10 rankings in three events (vault, uneven bars, balance beam). She totaled 23 top three finishes, including 13 titles, and led CMU with 42 scores of 9.700 or better.
Moraw recorded a top three finish in over 50 percent of the events in which she competed (16 of 29), including nine of 14 balance beam performances. By season’s end she had developed into one of the conference’s top floor exercise competitors and she proved that at the MAC Championships, blowing the roof off Western’s Read Fieldhouse with her title-winning 9.950 routine.
Noonan established herself as one of the MAC’s and Central Region’s best balance beam performers in 2013. Her score of 9.925 versus Ball State was a conference high for the season and ranks fifth in program history. Noonan collected top three showings in the beam in 10 meets, half of which were first place finishes.
Sophomore Kylie Fagan recorded the second highest score in the MAC in the uneven bars (9.900) in 2013, earning it in first place showings in two meets. A force for CMU in the uneven bars, she won the uneven bars in five of six MAC meets and earned a top two finish in 12 of 14 meets. Junior Emily Heinz was a mainstay in the vault, balance beam, and floor exercise line-ups, totaling 14 top three finishes for the season.
Emily LaFontaine and Meaghan McWhorter capped off their CMU careers with solid seasons. LaFontaine was the only competitor at the MAC Championships to earn a perfect 10.000 from one of the judges. McWhorter anchored the vault line-up for much of the season, tying a career high with a 9.900 versus WMU.
Freshmen Kirsten Petzold and Taylor Bolender made their marks in their rookie campaigns, giving CMU gymnastics fans a glimpse of a bright future.
CMU excelled in the classroom as well in 2013, as a conference high and program record seven Chippewas received Academic All-MAC recognition.
In 2014, CMU returns all three of its All-MAC performers, two others who own MAC top 10 event rankings, and a host of young up-and-comers. Add to the mix another talented recruiting class and continued success for Central Michigan gymnastics seems assured.