MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – The Mid-American American Conference Championships at home, a trip to California, and a visit from a very strong nonconference opponent are among the highlights of the 2018 Central Michigan gymnastics schedule.
The Chippewas open on Jan. 6 with a dual at McGuirk Arena against Illinois State, the first of a home-and-home with the Redbirds. The Chippwas go to Illinois State a month later.
The opener is the first of six home dates culminating with the MAC Championships at McGuirk on March 24.
CMU’s MAC opener is at Eastern Michigan on Jan. 13. The Eagles are the two-time defending MAC champions.
“it’s a very challenging schedule, there’s no doubt,” said Jerry Reighard, who is in his 34th year in charge of the Chippewa program. “We’re excited about it. It’s going to challenge us week in and week out.”
The Chippewas will host the MAC Championships for the first time since 2011, when they won the second of four consecutive league titles.
“It’s also an added pressure,” Reighard said of hosting, “because I don’t ever want to lose one, but I don’t want to lose one at home. That adds to a very challenging schedule.”
The Chippewas will entertain Southern Utah in a nonleaguer on Feb. 2, and travel to California on the first weekend of March to face Cal and San Jose State. A week after returning from California, the Chippewas are slated to compete in a nonconference dual at Ohio State.
CMU is slated to entertain MAC foes Western Michigan, Kent State and Ball State, and will battle league opponents Bowling Green and Northern Illinois along with Eastern Michigan on the road.
Five Chippewa opponents -- California, Eastern Michigan, Kent State, Ohio State and Southern Utah – were NCAA Regional qualifiers in 2017. CMU is seeking to qualify for the regionals for the 15th time in the last 20 years.
The on-campus regionals are slated for April 7, and the NCAA Championships are scheduled for April 20-21 at Chaifetz Arena in St. Louis.