Huskies Fall to Eastern Michigan in Gymnastics Home Opener

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Jan. 16, 2011

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DeKALB, Ill. - Northern Illinois senior Holly Reichard claimed three titles and Ashley Guerra and Marisa Liptak turned in a pair of impressive performances apiece, but the Huskie gymnastics team could not overcome a slow start on vault or the absence of two of its three all-around gymnasts in a dual meet loss to Eastern Michigan Sunday at the NIU Convocation Center.

In its first home competition of 2011, NIU posted a score of 186.825 while EMU totaled 187.800 to claim the Mid-American Conference victory in its first meet of the season. Northern Illinois fell to 0-3 overall, 0-1 in MAC competition.

"We warmed up one team today and competed another," said NIU Head Coach Mark Sontag. "We were coming off a great meet down in Kentucky last week which was intended to set up a good performance this week and it didn't happen. It was very atypical of us. From the first routine, I was scratching my head."

Northern Illinois hit just one of its six vaults as sophomore Natalie Sutter led the Huskies on the event with a 9.525. NIU's next highest score on vault was a 9.225. To add injury to insult, both Kim Gotlund and Jessica Watanabe were injured on their vaults. Watanabe was able to complete her bars routine but could not go on balance beam, while Gotlund was pulled from all three of her remaining events, forcing NIU to shuffle its line-up on its three remaining events. In addition, the Huskies were already without junior all-arounder Tanya Rachan, who was injured in training during the week.

"Some of our young people learned today that you always have to be ready," Sontag said. "In many ways we have a young team and they are learning how to compete. The whole key is to take what we see in practice and perform like that in the meets. You have to throw your practice routines in meets."

After the vault, the Huskies never completely regained their footing after putting up a team score of just 46.050 on the event. NIU did come back on its next event - the uneven parallel bars - with its top team total on the day of 47.500. Guerra and junior Shonda Clore tied for top honors on bars with scores of 9.700, a career best mark for the latter.

Reichard won both the balance beam and floor exercise events as she recorded season-best marks of 9.750 and 9.700, respectively. Guerra and Liptak went two-three on beam as they earned scores of 9.600 and 9.525, respectively, while Liptak also tied for second on floor exercise with a 9.675. Reichard scored a 37.825 to take the all-around title with her best overall score of the year.

"Ashley Guerra is really at the top of her game, she lit it up today," Sontag said. "She has a new confidence that comes from going to NCAAs last year and competing at the highest level. Holly stepped up late today, she's doing a great job with a completely new floor routine. With Marisa and Natalie (Sutter), as sophomores you just see that there is no substitute for competitive experience."

Northern Illinois will compete at home again next Sunday when they play host to Bowling Green State beginning at 1 p.m. in the Convocation Center's Victor E. Court. The meet will be part of a gymnastics-women's basketball doubleheader with one ticket good for both events.

-- NIU -

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