Chippewas Complete Another Title-Filled Season

Just when one thought it could get no better for Central Michigan University athletics ... it did. After winning a school-record six Mid-American Conference titles in 2002-03, Chippewa teams brought home seven crowns in 2003-04.

Championships were captured by the men's cross country, gymnastics, wrestling, women's indoor and outdoor track and field, baseball and softball teams.

The spring season saw the Chippewas dominate the conference, winning titles in three of the four sports. In addition to the overall MAC titles, the volleyball squad won the MAC West Division for the first time since the conference split into divisions in 1997.

As expected when the teams experience success, individuals also earn honors as well. This was definitely the case for the Chippewas this year. A total of 46 student-athletes were named to All-MAC teams including 26 first-teamers, 19 second-teamers and one to the honorable mention squad. CMU also made strides in the classroom, landing 18 team members on the All-MAC academic squad.

Jason Mester of the wrestling squad was named the MAC "Co-Wrestler of the Year" and softball's Amber Puchalski earned MAC "Pitcher of the Year" honors for the second time in her career. Two freshmen, football's Jerry Seymour and volleyball's Meghan Moore, were named the MAC "Freshman of the Year" in their respective sports.

Five different Chippewa coaches were recognized for their team's success by earning the MAC "Coach of the Year" award. Karen Lutzke garnered the honor twice for the women's track and field team's sweep of the indoor and outdoor titles. Baseball head mentor Steve Jaksa won the award for the first time after leading his team to its first MAC title in 11 years. For the three other coaches who picked up the honor, it wasn't their first time. Tom Borrelli (wrestling) grabbed his sixth, Jerry Reighard (gymnastics) garnered his fifth and Craig Fuller (cross country) was tabbed top coach for the third time in his career.



Cross Country

Central Michigan fended off Eastern Michigan for the second straight year as the Chippewas successfully defended their MAC Championship in cross country.

The CMU harriers captured their second MAC crown in two years.

Central Michigan's top seven runners all finished in the top 20 which helped the Chippewas edge the Eagles, 46-48, en route to thier second straight title. Last year, the Maroon and Gold fended off EMU with a one-point victory.

Four of the five Chippewas who scored were All-MAC honorees. Claiming honors for the second straight season were Tristen Perlberg and Jake Flynn. Perlberg was third overall, a first-team designee, and finished the 8k course in 24:16. Flynn was a second-teamer and was ninth in 24:30.

Also claiming second team All-MAC honors were Luke Humphrey (10th, 24:33) and Don Wilkins (11th, 24:36).

Head coach Craig Fuller earned his second straight MAC "Coach of the Year" honor and the third of his career.

CMU also took fourth in its region and finished 18th at the NCAA Championship.

Women's Track and Field First-year head coach Karen Lutzke guided the Chippewas to a sweep of the outdoor and indoor MAC Championships.

It was CMU's second indoor title in the past three years and its first outdoor title in school history.

The Chippewas finished with 103 points while second-place Eastern Michigan finished with 92.5 to capture the indoor championship.

Jackie Bozin won individual titles at both the indoor and outdoor MAC Championships, helping CMU to two conference crowns.

Central Michigan won the meet despite winning only two events and finishing in second in two events. The Chippewas had 10 different individuals score points in 18 different events.

Senior Jackie Bozin led the way for CMU by winning MAC titles in two events. She took the top spot with an NCAA provisional qualifying mark of 3787 in the pentathlon and took first in the high jump with a mark of 5-10.

The only other second-place finishes for CMU were Katie Davis in the weight throw (56-8) and Jackie Smart in the triple jump (41-3 3/4). Davis also took fifth in the shot put with a toss of 46-6 1/4.

In the outdoor championship, CMU used a complete team effort in narrowly edging out host Miami 112-107.5. Only four Chippewas managed an individual title.

Bozin, Fallon Bailey, Natasha Reynolds and Davis were individual champions. Bozin took the top spot in the high jump with a leap of 5-7 ¾ while Bailey grabbed first in the 100m dash with a time of 11.89.

Natasha Reynolds captured a victory in the javelin with a mark of 148-7 and Katie Davis won the shot put with a toss of 51-4.

Central Michigan had four second-place finishes including Bozin in the heptathlon (4904), Jackie Smart in the triple jump (41-4 ¼), Nancy Figueroa in the 100m hurdles (13.98), and the 4x100m relay team (46.04).

Lutzke picked up her second "Coach of the Year" honors in 2004. She was also named the top coach after the indoor MAC Championship. In just her first season as head coach, Lutzke has picked up more MAC titles than any other women's coach in CMU history.



Wrestling

The Chippewa wrestlers became the first CMU team to win six consecutive MAC titles with their championship season in 2004.

Head coach Tom Borrelli led the Chippewa wrestlers to their sixth straight MAC championship.

Central Michigan dominated its conference competition this season. In its five victories, the Chippewas won 43 of the 50 matches and outscored their opponents, 168-22. CMU scored four pins, four technical falls and seven major decisions along with four matches won by forfeit, meaning that the Chippewas won almost 40 percent of their conference matches by major decision or better.

Kyle Stoffer, Jordan Webster, Jason Mester, David Bolyard, Joe Yager and Bill Stouffer went a combined 79-13 this season in CMU's 16 duals.

The wrestlers also captured their sixth MAC tournament championship in the past seven years and sent six athletes to the NCAA Championship. Jason Mester and Adam Cunningham both earned All-America honors at the championship meet.



Gymnastics

Sara Burtinsky, Kara Reighard and Stephanie Langley (from left to right) all earned first-team All MAC honors in 2004.

The 2004 Chippewa gymnastics sqaud continued their dominance of the MAC by winning their 10th title in the past fifteen years in record-setting form.

In what seemed like a replay of the 2003 MAC Championship, the host Chippewas swept the individual events and broke the conference and school record with an overall score of 197.525. Sara Burtinsky took home the all-around, bars and beam titles while teammates Kara Reighard (vault) and Stephanie Langley (floor) won the other two events.

The regular season saw CMU cruise to its second straight undefeated MAC season and Reighard record the second perfect 10 in school history on the floor.

Head coach Jerry Reighard was named the MAC "Coach of the Year" for the fifth time in his career. Burtinsky, Reighard and Langley were all first-team All-MAC members and freshman Jules Passy earned second-team honors.



Baseball

Head coach Steve Jaksa returned the baseball team to prominence by leading the squad to its first MAC title in 11 years. Jim Geldhof helped the Chippewas to their first MAC title in 11 years. He received first-team All-MAC honors for his efforts.

The Chippewas edged out Miami for the title in the last series of the season. CMU took two of three games at Eastern Michigan to improve its record to 18-6 in conference play and capture the title outright.

The batting of Kurtis Wells, Jim Geldhof and Bryan Mitzel propelled the Chippewas to the championship. All three CMU hitters surpassed the previous school record of 65 RBI in a season. Wells finished with 70, Geldhof had 68 and Mitzel had 66.

Jaksa picked up the MAC "Coach of the Year" award in just his second season at the helm. He is the first Chippewa mentor to win the honor since Dean Kreiner in 1993. Geldhof was named to the first-team All-MAC while Mitzel and pitchers T.J. Johnson and David LeMieux made the second team.



Softball

Chippewa softball regained the MAC regular season title in 2004, its 11th in school history and third in the last four years.

Central Michigan softball continued its MAC dominence, winning its 11th conference title.

Central Michigan had a disappointing MAC Tournament but its 21-3 MAC slate and tough non-conference schedule featuring a pair of wins over top five-ranked teams earned Margo Jonker's squad an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, a first for a MAC team. CMU headed to the UCLA Regional where it fell to a pair of Top 25 teams in No. 15 Alabama (4-2) and No. 18 Long Beach State (3-2 in nine innings).

Senior pitcher Amber Puchalski was named MAC "Pitcher of the Year" for the second time in her career after being honored as a freshman. She set MAC records for career strikeouts (970) and victories (81). Junior Christin Sobeck was the team's top hitter with a .322 average, seven homers and 23 RBI. Her home run tally was just one shy of the school record. Both Puchalski and Sobeck were first team All-MAC picks and sophomore Christan Dhondt was second team All-MAC at designated player.

The Chippewas should be poised for more championship runs in the near future as seven of the 10 starters were freshmen or sophomores.


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