MOUNT PLEASANT - No luck was needed on St. Patrick's Day for the Central Michigan gymnastics program, as it defeated rival Western Michigan to claim the Mid-American Conference regular season title outright.
The Chippewas (14-6, 6-0 MAC) scored a season-high 195.525 and ran away with the meet over the final two rotations to claim their second-straight MAC regular season crown, as the Broncos (8-7, 4-2 MAC) finished with a score of just 193.925.
"I thought we were pretty darn good today," head coach Jerry Reighard said. "Everyone contributed and we're excited that this day is over. This is a tough day on everyone and to have this behind us so we can focus on the tournament is key. This was a great team effort and I don't think many people predicted that we would be regular season champions back in September. Every time someone went down this season, someone else stood up and that's what makes a championship team."
CMU held a slim lead after the first two rotations Saturday afternoon, 97.850-97.800, before putting together solid performances on the beam and floor while the Broncos struggled in the same events.
Freshmen Kylie Fagan and Taylor Noonan finished one-two in the balance beam to lead the Chippewas, scoring 9.825 and 9.800 respectively. While the Chippewas scored a 48.700 in the third rotation on the beam, Western had a setback on the floor and scored a 48.375 allowing CMU to extend its lead to 146.550-146.175.
Central's stars of the day, freshman Halle Moraw, senior Kristin Teubner and sophomore Brittany Petzold, put an exclamation point on the meet on the floor in the final rotation, scoring 9.800, 9.850 and 9.825 to close the meet and put the 592 fans inside McGuirk Arena on their feet in celebration.
Following the clinching of the a second-straight title with a 48.975 on the floor, the highlight of the day came in a non-counting exhibition floor exercise by senior Samantha Piotrowski. The senior captain, who competed in an exhibition role for the first time last week due to injury, competed in front of her home fans one last time and scored a 9.550.
"Today meant everything to me," Piotrowski said fighting back tears. "It's been really, really hard to think that something I dedicated 18 years of my life to was taken away, but my teammates and coaches have always had my back and somehow together as a team we pulled it together. It was awesome."
The Chippewas jumped out in front after the first rotation, scoring a 48.950 on the vault while the Broncos scored a 48.875 on the uneven bars. Petzold and Teubner led the way for the Maroon and Gold, finishing tied for second with scores of 9.825.
A one-two finish by Teubner and Petzold in the uneven bars allowed CMU to maintain its lead after the second rotation as CMU scored a 48.900 compared to Western's 48.925 on the vault. Petzold won the event scoring a 9.825 while Teubner finished close behind with a 9.8.
For the first time since last year's MAC Championships meet inside McGuirk Arena three Chippewas scored a 39-plus in the all-around as Teubner took the crown with a 39.225, Petzold finished second at 39.100 and Moraw accomplished the feat for the first time in her career to claim third with a 39.050.
The win over the Broncos marked the 28th straight by the Chippewas over MAC foes as they will look to continue their streak next Saturday in DeKalb, Ill., at the MAC Championships. CMU will look to claim its third-straight MAC Championships title in the meet, which is set to begin at 3:00 p.m.