Courtesy: Tim Fitzgerald/CMU Athletics
Sophomore Halle Moraw competes in the floor exercise in CMU’s 2013 season opener. The Chippewas travel to Chicago this weekend for the Michigan vs. Illinois Challenge.
No. 23 CMU Travels to Chicago for Michigan vs. Illinois Meet
MOUNT PLEASANT – The No. 23 Central Michigan gymnastics team will road trip to Chicago this weekend to take part in a competition that will pit two squads from the state of Michigan against two from the state of Illinois. Hosted by Illinois-Chicago, the quad meet is scheduled for 6 p.m. ET start on Saturday at the Flames’ Physical Education Building.

The Chippewas, which are ranked No. 6 in the Central Region, will combine with MAC rival Eastern Michigan to face UIC and Illinois State. Despite the pairings, all team scores will be counted separately.

Last weekend, in Minneapolis, CMU placed third in a quad meet that featured No. 1 Michigan, No. 12 Minnesota, and Iowa State, scoring a 194.650. The Chippewas established a new team season high in the floor exercise, posting a 48.950 in the second rotation, but missteps on the balance beam in the opening rotation placed CMU at an early disadvantage.

Sophomore Taylor Noonan starred for CMU, placing second in the balance beam with a 9.850. She also set a career high in the floor exercise, scoring a 9.825, to lead the CMU line-up and also established a personal best in the uneven bars (9.725). For her standout performance, she was named team MVP for the meet.

With its season-best effort in the floor exercise at Minnesota, CMU moved up to No. 22 nationally in the event. The Chippewas are also ranked No. 22 in the balance beam and No. 30 in both the vault and the uneven bars. Individually, Noonan (No. 43, balance beam) and sophomore Kylie Fagan (No. 44, bars) are CMU’s highest nationally ranked competitors.

Eastern Michigan, which is ranked No. 33 nationally, has dropped the first two meets of the season, both against MAC opponents, falling to Western Michigan (194.975-194.475) in Kalamazoo on January 20 and Bowling Green (194.025-193.900) at home a week ago. The Eagles top event is the uneven bars, averaging a 48.700, good enough for No. 22 in the nation. 

Illinois-Chicago is coming off a 194.050-192.450 head-to-head defeat of Illinois State last weekend in Normal. The 

win was the Flames’ first of the 2013 season after opening with a dual meet loss to Penn State and a fourth place-finish in a road quad meet with UC Davis, Cal, and Washington.

Illinois State opened the year with a 190.850-187.800 win over Lindenwood but has suffered back-to-back setbacks since.

CMU owns a winning all-time series record against Eastern Michigan (56-35), Illinois State (17-5), and Illinois-Chicago (7-5). A year ago, in the Michigan vs. Illinois Challenge, the Chippewas scored a 192.200 to place third behind UIC (194.125) and Illinois State (192.875) and ahead of host EMU (191.775). CMU also claimed wins over the Eagles in a tri-meet in Ypsilanti and at the MAC Championships.

Next weekend, Central Michigan will return to McGuirk Arena for the showcase home event of the 2013 season. On Friday, Feb. 8, the gymnastics and wrestling programs will come together for the Royal Rumble and Tumble. Gymnastics will face Northern Illinois while the wrestling squad battles Eastern Michigan in an extravaganza that features both teams competing simultaneously on the same floor. The event is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Fans that "Like" CMU Athletics' Facebook Page can purchase tickets at a discounted rate of just $3 through February 6.