Courtesy: Tim Fitzgerald/CMU Athletics
No. 24 CMU’s Rally Falls Short at No. 22 Kent State
KENT, Ohio – The No. 24 Central Michigan gymnastics team rallied to pull within .025 of No. 22 Kent State with one rotation remaining but the Chippewas were forced to count two falls in its final event and dropped a 196.050-194.900 decision to the Golden Flashes on Friday night at the M.A.C. Center in Kent.

CMU gymnasts won a share of one event title and claimed another outright to highlight the road outing. Sophomore Kylie Fagan tied for first place in the uneven bars, posting a career high score of 9.900. Junior Emily Heinz also recorded a personal best in her title win, topping the field in the balance beam with a score of 9.875. 

The Chippewas started on solid footing, scoring a respectable 48.925 in the uneven bars, but found itself down after one rotation, as KSU tallied a 49.125 in the vault. In addition to Fagan’s title-winning performance, junior Brittany Petzold was locked in, placing fourth with a season-high score of 9.850.

The same pattern unfolded in the second rotation, as CMU moved to vault. The Chippewas scored a 48.825, the team’s second highest of the season, but Kent State extended its lead by surpassing the 49.000 threshold again, this time in the uneven bars. Senior Meaghan McWhorter led Central in the vault, scoring a 9.850, to tie for second place while the Petzold sisters, each registered 9.800s.

Kent State faltered a bit in third rotation and CMU took advantage. As the Golden Flashes stumbled on beam, the Chippewas pulled within striking distance with a solid floor exercise set. Senior Emily LaFontaine and sophomore Halle Moraw each scored a 9.850 to headline Central’s line-up.

As CMU headed to balance beam, it was positioned to potentially overtake Kent State with a strong effort.

“We had three great beam routines and three not-so-great routines,” said CMU head coach Jerry Reighard. “We had closed the gap but we started pressing. And beam is not the event in which you can do that.”

CMU still was able to take the top three spots in the beam, with sophomores Becca Druien (9.850) and Taylor Noonan (9.825) finishing behind Heinz in the standings.

“All in all, we need to work harder,” said Reighard. “There is no doubt in my mind. We picked the worst places to not stick landings. They did, so the credit goes to them. That was the difference.”

Central Michigan remains on the road next weekend, traveling to Kalamazoo to face rival Western Michigan. The Chippewas and the Broncos will meet on Sunday, Feb. 24 at 1 p.m. at University Arena in Read Fieldhouse. CMU has more wins, 66, against Western Michigan than any other opponent in program history, including two last season.