Andy Sneddon, CMUChippewas.com
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. - As openers go, this one was typical.
Junior Katy Clements won three events Sunday as the Central Michigan gymnastics team opened the season with a tri-meet victory over Wisconsin-Eau Claire and Hamline at McGuirk Arena.
The Chippewas finished with a 192.075 score. Eau Claire was second with 188.700 and Hamline finished at 183.875.
Clements was first on vault and floor exercise, and shared the top spot with teammate Caroline Fitzpatrick on balance beam. Fitzpatrick and Clements scored 9.900 on beam, and Clements posted a 9.900 on floor, the final rotation of the day and the highlight event for CMU.
The Chippewas scored 49.025 on floor exercise.
"I was very pleased with our entire floor squad," said Jerry Reighard, who is in his 33rd year as the Chippewas' coach. "Especially at a home meet, that last event is what wins it for you and you've got to have the fourth quarter to come after people. I can't remember an opener that went 49 on floor in a long time, so that's good."
CMU, which opens Mid-American Conference competition at Western Michigan next Sunday, scored 47.725 on vault, 47.700 on beam and 47.625 on bars.
"Three events that were 47 are alarming," Reighard said. "Too many things went wrong, too many people mentally checked out. We can get through that and make those changes easily if the athletes want to, if the athletes recognize where it's at.
"I think part of it is just the youth of our team and the inexperience. This meet will certainly help with that. ... Those 47s have got to change in five practices or we're going to be in big trouble, and we've got to maintain the 49."
Clements, a junior, and Fitzpatrick, a senior, are two of the veteran mainstays in the lineup. But like so many of their teammates, they are taking on more prominent roles in the 2017 season. Another Chippewa junior, Brittany Kaplan, won the uneven bars, leading a top-four sweep in the event.
"There were a few mistakes that were uncharacteristic for us, but I think we pulled it together really well," Clements said. "We struggled on some details, but we really highlighted on a lot of our routines. We sold our performances on floor, the energy was high, we loved the crowd today. There's definitely a lot of things we need to work on for sure.
"Our team is prepared and destined for much greater performances than we put out today and definitely not completely satisfied with where we ended up today."
CMU freshman Denelle Pedrick, competing in her first collegiate competition, was second on floor, tied for second on vault and bars, and was fourth on beam.
Her performance was symbolic of how the day went by and large for the Chippewas: Good, but plenty of work for an improvement, and the opening meet - as is always the case - helped to shed light on those areas.
"I think what I'm very pleased with is the work ethic of this group," Reighard said. "They're not lazy and they're not afraid to come in tomorrow and work hard, but there is a difference between working hard and working better, working smarter, and that's what we have to do. You have to make the changes and make those changes permanent."