Andy Sneddon, CMUChippewas.com
ST. LOUIS – No All-America status, no podium.
But plenty of experience, plenty to be proud of, and, perhaps most importantly, plenty of motivation for Central Michigan gymnastics.
The Chippewas’ Denelle Pedrick placed 29th on vault and Katy Clements was 33rd on balance beam on Friday at the NCAA Championships at Chaifetz Arena on the campus of Saint Louis University.
Pedrick, a freshman from Wilcox, Saskatchewan, scored 9.8375 on vault. Clements, a junior from Gainesville, Ga., posted a 9.8625 on beam. Eighty-seven gymnasts participated on beam, 86 on vault.
“I felt very good about both performances,” CMU coach Jerry Reighard said. “They hung in there. They weren’t that far off the podium. It took a 9.9 to get to the podium. There’s a lot of separating factors that the judges use. We did the routine and the vault that we expected to see, but when you compare them to some of the athletes we still have some work to do.”
Which is always the case for any team in any sport. For the Chippewas, as they look ahead to 2018, the goals are realistic and attainable, Reighard said. CMU graduates just four student-athletes in Kirstin Stambaugh, Shaila Segal, Caroline Fitzpatrick and Rachel Carr.
“I feel really fortunate to have the athletes that are returning to be part of the 2018 season,” Reighard said, adding that finishing atop the Mid-American Conference is among the Chippewas’ top goals. “We feel that we’re in a really good position to be both regular-season and tournament champions next season. The growth and the experience that I’ve seen in our athletes, I have every expectation that next year will be a banner year for us.”
It also will help that Pedrick and Clements qualified for the NCAA Championships, the first Chippewas to do so since 2014. They were the only competitors from MAC schools at the NCAA.
“They are going to bring back what they’ve learned and share that with the rest of the team and I think that’s going to be very valuable,” Reighard said. “That is really going to prove very beneficial to our team.”
The improvement that both showed throughout the 2017 season mirrored that of the team, he added.
“We started out as a team this year ranked in the high 40s and we worked ourselves through the season and got better, really impvoed, got to top 25,” he said. “Very similar circumstantce with Denelle and Katy. I feel a tremendous amount of growth potential in the future for both of them.”