MAC Gymnastics Weekend Preview

Updated 2/15/2013

Courtesy of MAC Sports Information Departments 

 

Ball State
Ball State's women's gymnastics team, under the direction of head coach Nadalie Walsh, is hosting Western Michigan Friday at 7 p.m. in its annual THINK PINK MEET.  Admission is free of charge.

The Cardinals are currently riding a five match win streak and are 3-0 in the Mid-American Conference.  Ball State will host a Western Michigan team that owns a 4-3 overall record and a 1-1 MAC mark.  WMU was predicted to finish second in the conference's preseason rankings, while the Cardinals were picked for sixth.
 
Ball State is ranked in the top 50 in the nation in three of the four events as a team.  The Cardinals are ranked 42nd in the country on the floor with a 48.492 regional qualifying score, while also being ranked 48th nationally on the vault (48.679) and on the bars (48.175).
 
In Ball State's last meet at Eastern Michigan, Brittney Emmons won the all-around with a 38.625 score, while Nicole Allen won the vault with a 9.80, Angie Hosbach won the bars with a 9.75, and Leah Wilson won the beam with a 9.75.  In addition to Allen winning the vault, Emmons tied for third with a 9.75. Ball State's team score of 48.625 on the vault tied for the 14th best mark in school history.
 
This will be Ball State's last home meet until its March 3 Senior Day Meet vs. Kentucky.
 
Bowling Green 
The Falcons will face competition from the Wolfpack, along with North Carolina, Pittsburgh, George Washington and William & Mary.  With six teams and only four events, each team will incorporate two bye rotations into their meet.  Bowling Green will start on balance beam, then go to a bye before floor exercise, vault, another bye and finish on uneven bars.  The Falcons are currently ranked third in the Mid-American Conference on beam.
 
"I am pleased with our rotation order," said head coach Kerrie Beach.  "We finished our last meet with a great balance beam rotation so our confidence is high on that event.  It should be a great start to the competition this weekend."
 
The Falcons dipped back in score last week, dropping to a 192.850 after struggling on uneven bars against Lindenwood.  Strong performances on the remaining three events helped Bowling Green fend off the Lions, 192.850-192.050.  The goal this weekend, like any other, will be to string together 24 hit routines without counting a low score.
 
"I expect the team will hit all four events this weekend with the experience they have gained and our ability to address issues in the week in order to prepare for this competition," Beach said.  "We have been struggling a bit on bars recently so I have changed the assignments to work on areas that have given us difficulty."
 
Amanda Lievendag has been a consistent leader on uneven bars for the Falcons, collecting four individual wins so far this season.  Her high score of 9.85 came in a win over MAC rival Eastern Michigan.  Jamilah Ali, who ranked first in the MAC on vault for the entire month of January, now sits at No. 2, with an average score of 9.825.
 
On Monday, North Carolina, George Washington and William & Mary competed in a tri-meet, with GWU coming out on top with a score of 194.675.  The Tarheels finished second (193.275), well ahead of third-place William & Mary (191.925).  
 
N.C. State most recently finished second to Maryland in a quad meet, 195.100-194.600.  The Wolfpack was led by a 39.050 all-around performance from Stephanie Ouellette.  Pittsburgh competed in the Chicago Style quad meet, taking second to Arizona with a score of 194.750.  
 
"The competition will be fierce with the six teams present at this meet and I believe that will only help our gymnasts step up and gain a great road score."
 
Last season, the Falcons met both UNC and Pittsburgh on the road, falling to the Tarheels on Feb. 5, 193.125-191.500, and the Panthers on Feb. 18, 194.050-192.325.  At 2-4 (1-2 MAC), the Falcons have already matched their win total from 2012.  The team's average score halfway through the season has also increased from last year, rising from a 192.063 to a 192.754.  
 
The Sweetheart Invitational will be streamed live on the web via ESPN3.  The competition is set to begin Saturday at 7 p.m.  To view the ESPN3 webcast, follow this link.

Central Michigan
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – Mid-American Conference gymnastics powers will collide on Friday night when three-time defending champion and 24th-ranked Central Michigan visits preseason favorite No. 22 Kent State for a 7 p.m. showdown at the Memorial Athletic and Convocation Center in Kent. At stake potentially is an early inside track to the MAC regular season title. 

The Chippewas and the Golden Flashes have dominated the league over the last quarter of a century, as the programs have combined to win 22 of the last 25 MAC championships, including the last five. CMU leads the conference with 13 titles. A year ago, CMU defeated Kent State, head-to-head in a dual meet in Mount Pleasant (194.475-193.550) and at the 2012 MAC Championships (195.625-195.225). The Chippewas, overall, hold a 34-24 all-time record versus Kent State. 
 
CMU remained undefeated at home last weekend, downing Northern Illinois, 194.800-194.025, in McGuirk Arena as part of the Royal Rumble and Tumble. The Chippewas got strong performances from all-arounders Brittany Petzold (39.075) and Becca Druien (39.050), who finished 1-2 in the standings, to secure their first MAC win of the season. Central Michigan won three of the four events both as a team and individually. Petzold tied for first in the vault (9.825) while Druien claimed the top spot in the uneven bars with a personal best score of 9.850. Junior Emily Heinz was Central’s other title winner, capturing the balance beam crown with a 9.800.
 
After six weeks of competition, CMU is ranked highest nationally in the balance beam (No. 21). The Chippewas are also ranked No. 24 in the floor exercise and No. 29 in the vault and the uneven bars. Individually, at the regional level, CMU has two gymnasts in the top 12: sophomore Kylie Fagan (No. 9, uneven bars) and sophomore Halle Moraw (No. 11, floor exercise; No. 12, balance beam).
 
Kent State is coming off a second straight dual meet win, defeating non-conference foe Rutgers, 195.675-193.700, at home a week ago. The Golden Flashes have passed both MAC tests thus far this year, topping Western Michigan, 194.675- 194.125, at home on January 25 and Bowling Green, 195.800-193.825, on the road on February 2. KSU’s lone setbacks in 2013 have come at the hands of No. 11 Minnesota and Iowa State. The Golden Flashes are led by junior Marie Case, the nation’s No. 25-ranked all-arounder, and senior Rachel Guida, who is ranked No. 8 nationally in the uneven bars.
 

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.
 
Eastern Michigan 
YPSILANTI, Mich. (EMUEagles.com) – The Eastern Michigan University gymnastics team (1-5) will be making their longest road trip of the season, traveling nearly 4,000 miles (3,821 to be exact) to Anchorage, Alaska to take on the University of Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves inside the Wells Fargo Sports Complex, Feb. 17, at 2 p.m. local time. For those in the Eastern time zone, the meet will begin at 6 p.m. Live stats as well as a live video broadcast of the event can be found at GoSeawolves.com.
 
EMU Head Coach Steve Wilce joined Eagle All-Access this week to talk about his team's performance against Ball State as well as discussing the long road trip to Anchorage, Alaska.
 
SO CLOSE ON SENIOR NIGHT: EMU flies out west after a narrow home loss, 194.075-193.975, at home to Ball State University on Senior Night, Feb. 9. Khadijah Hudson and Anna Willette each led the Eagles in two events. Hudson won the floor with a career-best 9.850, while also finishing runner-up in the vault with a 9.775 mark. Willette recorded scores of 9.75 on both the uneven parallel bars and the balance beam, good enough for second place in both events.
 
FOUR EMU SENIORS HONORED, COMPETE: In the final year of their EMU careers , seniors Brittany Cassar, Camille Cicchini, Amanda Fuller and Kristina Kurkmilis were honored, Feb. 9, when the Eagles faced Ball State at Bowen Field House, and each of them saw action in the meet. Cassar competed in three events that included scores of 9.700 on the floor as well as the bars. Fuller put together a pair of impressive scores, taking third on the vault with a 9.750 followed by a runner-up finish in the floor exercise with a score of 9.800. Cicchini tied teammates Cassar and Carrina Lo Bello on the bars with a 9.700. Fuller and Kurkmilils finished behind their teammate, Hudson, on the floor with a solid scores of 9.800.  The pair of seniors also tied on the vault as both recorded 9.750.
 
THE MIGHTY MAC: The Eagles have found out just how tough competition in the Mid-American Conference has been this year. In losses to Western Michigan University and Bowling Green State University, the two opponents recorded their highest team scores of the season against the Eagles. Ball State recorded its second-highest total of the year, defeating Eastern, 194.075-193.975, Feb. 9.
 
SCOUTING THE SEAWOLVES: The Alaska Anchorage Seawolves host EMU in their home finale, coming into the meet with a record of 4-4. UAA traveled to the contiguous United States for a pair of meets in Shreveport, La., Feb. 8-10. Finishing behind Centenary College but ahead of Winona State University in the tri-meet, the Seawolves took second with a score of 190.025. UAA then defeated Centenary in a dual meet two days later, 191.950-191.150.
 
NEXT UP, TIME FOR REVENGE: The Eagles will look to avenge a pair of conference losses when they meet host Bowling Green and Ball State for the Bowling Green Invitational, Feb. 23. The Green and White suffered narrow home defeats to the two conference foes earlier in the season, falling to BGSU, Jan. 26, and most recently to Ball State, Feb. 9.

 

Kent State 
The No. 22 Kent State Gymnastics (6-2; 2-0) team will look for their fourth straight victory this weekend when they take on the No. 24 Central Michigan Chippewas (7-3; 1-1) Friday, February 15 at 7:00 p.m. Without a doubt, the results of this meet with directly affect the outcome of the Mid-American Conference title, as the two schools have combined to win the last five MAC titles as well as 22 of the last 25.

The Golden Flashes are coming off a victory over Rutgers, where they won 195.675-193.700 to mark their third consecutive win. The team combined to sweep every event of the night, sending the Scarlet Knights home disappointed. In the Flashes sweeping defeats, the set a new season-high on the uneven bars, scoring a 49.275. Following that performance two gymnasts were honored for their efforts. Junior Marie Case (Erie, Pa.) continued her hot streak when she was awarded as MAC Gymnast of the Week for the third week in a row. Senior Rachel Guida (Cumberland, R.I.) was also honored as the MAC Specialist of the week, marking the second time she has received the weekly award this season. It also was the second time in three weeks that the duo have swept the MAC Gymnast of the Week and Specialist of the Week honors.
 
Scouting Central Michigan:
 
The Chippewas are coming off a victory over Northern Illinois where they fell just short of reaching 195 when they earned a score of 194.800. Despite the win, Central Michigan fell three spots in the national rankings to No. 24. One of their top performers is junior Brittany Petzold, who earned a 39.075 in the all-around, the best overall score of the meet. Petzold's efforts this season have ranked her in the top 50 gymnasts in the country on the all-around, as she currently sits tied for 47th, the highest ranked Chippewa. In comparison Kent State's best all-around performer, Case, sits ranked 25th nationally.
 
Central Michigan Series History:
 
Kent State is 29-40 all time against the Chippewas in a series dating back to 1980 with their last win occuring in 2010. Since then, the Golden Flashes have dropped five straight and are looking to reverse that trend Friday.
 
The Golden Flashes will return to action Saturday, February 23 at 5:00 p.m when they travel to Northern Illinois to take on the Huskies at the NIU Convocation Center.
 
Northern Illinois 
DeKALB, Ill. - After posting a season-best score of 194.025 at Central Michigan last week, the Northern Illinois gymnastics team has designs on even higher marks as they take on Iowa State in Ames, Iowa this Friday. The meet begins at 6:30 p.m. (CT) at Hilton Coliseum and will be televised live online on Cyclones.tv (subscription required) and in Iowa on Mediacom Channel 22.
 
For live stats, click here.
 
Northern Illinois (3-2, 1-2 MAC) put together its best meet of the season versus No. 21 Central Michigan last Friday as the Huskies scored 48.300 or higher on all four events and were within striking distance of the Chippewas entering the final rotation. Iowa State (2-5, 0-2 Big 12) is also coming off its best score of the year as the Cyclones tallied 194.825 points in a loss at West Virginia.
 
Senior Natalie Sutter (Barberton, Ohio/Coventry HS) and freshman Jaelyn Olsen (Bethany, Okla./Putnam City West HS) led the Huskies at CMU. Sutter won the floor exercise with a career-high mark of 9.875 while Olsen tied for first on vault with a career-best score of 9.825. The Huskies also got a 9.800 on floor exercise from Marisa Liptak (Kendall Park, N.J./South Brunswick HS), and 9.775s on both uneven parallel bars and balance beam from Megan Melendez (Stafford, Va./North Stafford HS). NIU's 194.025 mark was 1.150 points higher than its previous season best.
 
The Huskies are 3-2 overall on the season, and are looking for their first road win of 2013 in Ames. Unable to control what's happening on the other side of the gym when Iowa State is competing, the key to a successful meet will be Northern Illinois hitting its routines, said NIU Head Coach Sam Morreale. 
 
"Honestly, [winning] starts with us hitting [our routines]," Morreale said. "If we hit the 194 mark, we'll push them hard. We're comparable teams. It's definitely a challenge because they have regional experience, and they are a team that gets better as the year progresses just like we are. Everything starts with us taking care of our routines and getting that 194 again and putting the pressure on them."
Morreale likes what he has seen out of his leaders through the first half of the season, both in meets and in practice. Sutter and junior Kim Gotlund (Wadsworth, Ill./Warren Township HS), NIU's all-arounders, have consistently scored in the high 38s when they have hit, while Melendez has cracked the Huskie line-up on vault in the last two meets and is now competing on three events. Her average scores on both bars (9.625) and beam (9.765) lead Northern Illinois. Liptak owns the top floor exercise average (9.735) on the team and Olsen the top vault (9.745).
 
"I think as a group, everyone is trying to up their game and we are getting that competition at the bottom of our line-up which is pushing the top half to do well," Morreale said. "We had another good week of paying attention to small things and correcting the little mistakes. At this point of the season, it's all about detail work. I expect everyone to have a good day Friday."
 
The Iowa State meet marks the start of the second half of the 10-meet regular season. By the time Northern Illinois reaches the MAC Championships on March 23, Morreale wants to see the 194.025 from the Central Michigan meet become the norm, or even the lowest score counted toward regional qualifying.
 
"We're trying to keep that same intensity [from the Central Michigan meet] moving forward," Morreale said. "We're not relaxing because we went 194, we're trying to raise the bar. We'd like that to be our lowest score when all is said and done but we have to stay within ourselves."
 
Following Friday's Iowa State meet, the Huskies return to the NIU Convocation Center for its next two competitions as the Huskies will host league favorite Kent State on Friday, March 1 and Eastern Michigan on Sunday, March 10.

 

Western Michigan
KALAMAZOO, Mich.- The Western Michigan gymnastics team travels to Ball State for its third Mid-American Conference meet of the season, taking on the Cardinals, Friday, Feb. 15 at 7 p.m. in Muncie, Ind.

SCOUTING REPORT
Western Michigan is 4-3, 1-1 in the MAC this season and was predicted to finish second in the conference preseason rankings. The Broncos look to get back on track after finishing third against No. 2 Oklahoma, No. 26 West Virginia and William & Mary in a quad-meet two weeks ago. The Broncos posted a 192.475 team score in that meet and are currently ranked No. 37 in the nation with a 193.769 season average. Fortunately the Broncos have experience on their side with seven seniors and returning 14 members from last year's squad.
 
Ball State has hit the ground running, winning five straight meets and posting a 3-0 MAC record, after dropping its first two meets of the year at Florida and Iowa. The Cardinals were predicted to finish sixth in the preseason MAC poll. Ball State is coming off a 194.075 to 193.975 over Eastern Michigan, Feb. 9, and also have recorded league wins over Northern Illinois and Central Michigan. The 194.075 score that the Cardinals put up against EMU was the 24th best mark in school history. Ball State enters this weekend's matchup against the Broncos with a 193.088 season average, ranking 47th in the country.
 
LAST YEAR VS. BALL STATE
The Broncos took care of the Cardinals, 194.225 to 191.600, last year in Kalamazoo. Western Michigan started off the meet with a school record 49.175 on vault, shattering the previous record of 48.875. Taylor Zondervan and Lauren Bledsoe tied for the second best individual vault score in program history with a 9.900. Bledsoe would again tally a career high with a 9.900 on floor exercise, tying WMU's third-highest score ever.
 
GOING FOR FOUR IN A ROW
Western Michigan has defeated Ball State in the last three regular season meetings. The last time the two squared off in Muncie on March 11, 2011, WMU came away with a 194.025 to 192.575 victory. The Cardinals' last win over the Brown & Gold was in their home arena on Feb. 22, 2009, edging WMU 190.975 to 189.800.