Central Michigan finishes first at MAC Championships

Zach Baker and Zach Baker

The house that roars more than lived up to its name Saturday. This time, Anderson Arena wasn’t rocking for a basketball game. The Mid-American Conference Gymnastics Championships brought out large crowds from each of the seven schools that competed in the event.

The most noise, however, was made by Central Michigan, who dominated nearly all of the four events. They finished with an overall score of 197.425 set a new MAC Championships record. Central also dominated many of the individual awards, as Katie Teft, Kara Reighard, Bethany Couturier and Michele Orloski were each named to the five-gymnast All-MAC first team.

Central coach Jerry Reighard said he was proud of the results, and thankful for the way his team performed.

“It was really an incredible day, and we really felt the Lord’s presence in the arena,” Reighard said. “I can honestly say that without that, this team would not be as good as it is. It was a great competition that always brings out the best in every athlete, and we just felt really good today…it was the best meet of my career, and the best meet for Central Michigan.”

Reighard said that the overall points record attained Saturday could help his team gain some respect on the national level.

“It’s a milestone…we have been overshadowed in the Mid-American Conference for so many years, and people don’t take us as being a legitimate power,” Reighard said. “For a team to get over 197 in this conference, I think it speaks volumes, and hopefully we can do it again at Regionals.”

While the Chippewas came away with a convincing victory, several of the other teams at the event had strong showings.

In what Bowling Green coach Dan Connelly called his team’s strongest showing of the year, BG scored fourth in the seven team championships, with an overall score of 195.175.

Eastern Michigan edged out BG for third place with an overall score in the events of 195.350. Kent State, whose head coach Brice Biggin was named MAC coach of the year for the fifth time, came in second in the championships with a total score of 196.125.

Connelly said he was pleased with the way the event came off, and was happy that the team’s best performance came both at home and at the championships.

“That’s obviously the icing on the cake,” Connelly said. “In addition to that, there was a lot of energy that went into preparing to run this competition. Clearly, this is a very stressful meet, a very competitive meet…to have this kind of performance in this arena with a nice crowd and a lot of support was really nice to have.”