MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – Denelle Pedrick
and her teammates delivered when they most needed to on Sunday at McGuirk Arena.
Pedrick posted a 9.850 on the floor exercise in the final rotation as the Chippewas won the event in topping a strong field in its season-opening quad meet.
CMU's strong performance on the floor exercise was the difference as the Chippewas finished first with a 194.875 team score. Arizona was second at 194.750, followed by Illinois (192.850) and Division II Bridgeport (192.575).
Illinois was ranked 22nd
in the preseason poll, while the Chippewas were 30th
and Arizona was 33rd
"Not many programs can bring in a Pac 12 team and a Big Ten team and take care of business," CMU coach Jerry Reighard
said. "More importantly I feel that this team is unbelievably talented and they don't even know it yet. They're getting a taste of what it's going to feel like.
"You want to see the best teams you can see because you're going to see them sooner or later. Whether you win or lose, you're going to learn from those situations. I was really pleased with the performances."
The Chippewas learned plenty on Sunday. At the top of the list was their potential, as evidenced by their performance on the floor exercise in the final rotation.
CMU entered the event second behind Arizona. Pedrick led the way, while teammates Sierra Demarinis, Nora Fettinger
, Abbie Rose Zoeller and Morgan Tong
finished third, fourth, fifth and seventh, respectively, as the Chippewas posted a 49.125, the best score of the day by any of the four teams in any of the four events.
"For me, if I focus on scores it doesn't do well for my routine," said Pedrick, who last year won the floor at the NCAA Regional. "I just focus on the technique of the things I need to do and my tumbling and my leaps and the score will take care of itself.
"There's always have those nerves, but it's how you use them that's important. As a team on floor, we kept composed, we weren't worried about the numbers. We were worried about doing our job."
AT THE TOP
Pedrick also won the balance beam with a 9.850, while CMU's Macey Hilliker
was third and Skyler Memmel
The Chippewas got second-place finishes from Sydney Williams
(vault) and Gianna Plaksa
That the likes of Pedrick, Williams and Plaksa led the charge came as no surprise to Reighard.
"You can't build a team if you don't have a core," he said. "That definitely is the core and they know it. That puts a lot of pressure on them because every day in the gym they've got to maintain their position. (They're) great gymnasts and I know that the first thing they're going to do is watch the video and they're going to beat themselves up about little things and they're going to correct those little things and each one of them will get better as we go along."
That the Chippewas were able to beat two ranked teams from Power-5 conferences is a confidence boost, Plaska said.
"Overall I would say we did very, very well," she said. "It wasn't unexpected. It's what we've been doing in practice every day. It's very good that we can carry it over from practice into the meet and it shows how much we can grow throughout the season.
"It definitely boosts our confidence. It reinforces what the coaches tell us every day, that we're a great team, that we can go out there and we can compete with the top teams."
HOME SWEET HOME
The season-opening meet drew a good-sized crowd to McGuirk, most of whom stuck around for the post-meet ceremony during which the Chippewas were presented with their 2018 Mid-American Conference championship rings.
"It's always nice to start off at home," Pedrick said. "Home crowd, home events, you know the equipment like the back of your hand, you know what to expect."