Courtesy of WMU Athletics/Kristin Keirns
Western Michigan gymnastics coach Penny Jernigan has announced the 2014 schedule, highlighted by three Mid-American Conference home meets, as well as home meets against non-conference opponents Michigan State and UIC.
The Broncos are coming off a 2013 season in which they captured their fourth MAC Championship in school history, claiming the title in their home arena in March.
“We have an extremely exciting schedule this year,” Jernigan said. “Our team will have a great opportunity to sharpen its skills early, opening the season against a tough SEC team Arkansas in Fayetteville. We are looking forward to hosting our five home meets as well, and it’s our goal to break the program’s all-time attendance record at University Arena.
“The Mid-American Conference meets will be extremely competitive as always, and we are excited for the chance to defend our 2013 MAC Championship.”
Western Michigan kicks off the 2014 campaign on the road in a three-team meet at Arkansas, going up against the Razorbacks as well as Bridgeport. Arkansas is a perennial national power, finishing sixth in the nation in 2012 and placing 10th last year. Current WMU assistant coach Ralph Rosso was on the Arkansas staff the last two seasons before joining Jernigan in Kalamazoo this past September. The Razorbacks return three All-Americans.
Following the trip to Fayetteville, Western Michigan dives into its MAC schedule with back-to-back Friday night meets against Bowling Green and Kent State, Jan. 17 & Jan. 24. WMU then heads to Northern Illinois Feb.1, hosts Ball State, Sunday, Feb. 9, and travels to Eastern Michigan, Feb. 15.. After five consecutive conference meets, WMU takes a month-long break from MAC competition, turning its focus to three non-conference opponents. The Brown & Gold will look for its fourth-straight victory over in-state rival Michigan State when the Broncos host the Spartans, Friday, Feb. 21. WMU then journeys to another Big Ten school for a quad meet at Penn State, with Yale and Lindenwood also participating. Western Michigan returns to Kalamazoo for its final home meet, welcoming UIC, Sunday, March 9.
The Broncos close the regular season in Mount Pleasant with a final MAC dual at Central Michigan, March 15. Eastern Michigan has the honors of hosting this year’s MAC Championships, March 22, in Ypsilanti. NCAA regionals will take place around the countryApril 2 and nationals will run April 15-17.
Western Michigan returns nine gymnasts from the 2013 championship season and eight newcomers join the roster. Among those returning are First Team All-MAC selection and last season’s MAC Freshman of the Year Kayla Weber, as well as MAC vault champion, sophomore Jessi Buis.