Courtesy: CMU Athletic Communications
CMU to Vie for NCAA Championship Bid at Columbus Regional
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – The Central Michigan gymnastics team will compete in its fifth consecutive NCAA Regional on Saturday when it takes on five of the nation’s other top teams in St. John Arena in Columbus, Ohio on the host campus of The Ohio State University. At stake are team and individual berths to the 2013 NCAA Championships.

The Chippewas, ranked 24th nationally, will battle with No. 6 UCLA, No. 7 LSU, No. 18 Arizona, host No. 20 Ohio State, and No. 31 North Carolina State to qualify for the NCAA Championships, which will be held from April 19-21 at host UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles. The teams with the two highest scores from Saturday’s competition, which is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m., will advance.

Individuals can also advance to the NCAA Championships based on their regional performance. The top two all-around competitors from non-qualifying teams and individuals who take first place in an event with a score of 9.800 or better, if they are not part of a qualifying team or an all-around qualifier, earn a berth to Los Angeles.

Fans can follow all of the action at the Columbus Regional with live scoring and video. Instant updates will also be provided through the official Twitter account of the Chippewas gymnastics, @CMUGymnastics.

When last in action, on March 23, CMU claimed its fourth consecutive conference crown at the 2013 MAC Championships, tying host Western Michigan with a score of 194.800. The Chippewas earned the program's 14th overall conference title due in large part to a dominant team performance in the floor exercise. CMU totaled a season best 49.350 in the event, led by sophomore Halle Moraw, who captured the MAC title with a career high score of 9.950. Junior Brittany Petzold, a First All-MAC honoree, was named MAC Co-Gymnast of the Year following the meet.  

Central Michigan enters the NCAA Regional with momentum, having claimed wins against five of its last six regular season opponents and a title at the MAC Championships. Within that span, the Chippewas scored above a 196.000 as a team twice and surpassed the 49.000 barrier in events 11 times, including six consecutive in the floor exercise.

As a team, CMU is nationally ranked No. 24 in the floor exercise, No. 25 in the uneven bars, No. 26 in the balance beam, and No. 28 in the vault. Individually, sophomores Taylor Noonan (No. 27 in the balance beam), a Second Team All-MAC performer in 2013, and Kylie Fagan (No. 35 in the uneven bars) are Central’s top two highest ranked competitors.

UCLA, the regional’s No. 1 seed, is ranked nationally in the top nine in every event, including No. 6 in the balance beam and floor exercise. Two-time Pac-12 Gymnast of the Year Vanessa Zamarripa leads the Bruins, who boast a total of five All-PAC-12 performers in 2013. She is ranked No. 1 in the nation in the vault, standing as one of four competitors who have scored a perfect 10.000 in the event this season, and is the NCAA’s top all-arounder. UCLA’s high score this season is a 197.425.

Second-seeded LSU, which owns a season high score of 197.700, is the nation’s top ranked team in the vault and is positioned no lower than No. 12 in the national rankings in any of the four events. The Tigers feature three All-SEC performers in Rheagan Courville, Lloimincia Hall, and Jessica Savona. Courville was named the 2013 SEC Gymnast of the Year while Hall is the NCAA’s No. 1-ranked vaulter.

No. 3 seed Arizona, which possesses a season best score of 196.625, is ranked in the top 21 in all four events and is headlined by Aubree Cristello, a four-year All-Pac-12 honoree. The Wildcats are making their 27th consecutive regional appearance.

Host Ohio State, the four seed, has a season high score of 196.850 and finished fifth at the Big Ten Championships. Behind 2013 All-Big Ten honorees Sarah Miller, Aly Marohn, and Melanie Shaffer, the Buckeyes will look to make their second consecutive NCAA Championship appearance after finishing 10th nationally a season ago.

Sixth-seeded North Carolina State is making its 11th consecutive regional appearance. The Wolfpack is led by juniors Diahanna Hamm and Stephanie Ouellette, who have compiled 26 and 23 top three finishes, respectively, this season, and EAGL Rookie of the Year, freshman Michaela Woodford. NCSU’s high score this season is a 196.050.

CMU will start the regional competing on the uneven bars. After a bye, the Chippewas will rotate to the balance beam and then move to the floor exercise. After a second bye, Central will finish the competition on the vault.

Central Michigan has competed in the NCAA Regionals a total of nine times during its program history. A year ago, the Chippewas finished in sixth place at the Seattle, Wash. regional, scoring a 194.150. CMU’s top regional finish took place in 2003 when it placed second with a score of 196.350.

Ticket prices for the event are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors (62 & up) and students (under 18). Tickets may also 

be purchased at a group rate for $5 with 20 or more people. Tickets can be purchased by online (see quick links) or by calling 1-800-GOBUCKS.