Jan. 24, 2010
BOWLING GREEN, Ohio - Northern Illinois earned its best team score of the season and got top performances from senior Natalie Blum and freshman Natalie Sutter, but suffered several mishaps on the balance beam and lost its first meet, 192.625-190.900, at Bowling Green on Sunday.
The Huskies fell to 2-1, 1-1 in the Mid-American Conference, while Bowling Green improved to 1-2 overall, 1-0 in the MAC.
NIU entered the final event of the day holding on to a 143.925-143.800 lead over the host Falcons. However, the Huskies had several falls on the balance beam and scored a season-low 46.975 on the event, while BGSU came through with a 48.825 total on floor exercise to earn the victory.
"Beam was our undoing this meet," said NIU Head Coach Mark Sontag. "We were behind after the first and second events, pulled ahead in the third rotation, but then let up on beam. It's unusual because we've had two strong beam outings [this year]. I like the way we competed everywhere except on beam, and sometimes that's going to happen no matter what."
The Huskies earned their highest team scores of the season on both vault and uneven parallel bars to open the meet, with a vault total of 47.900, led by Blum's team season-best 9.800, and a 48.050 on bars. Holly Reichard, who competed in a season-high three events as she works her way back from a foot injury, and Keiko Tanaka paced Northern Illinois on bars as they each scored 9.700 to tie for third place on the event.
Blum also tied for second on floor exercise with a season-best 9.800 and took second in the all-around with her career high score of 38.725. Sutter, the reigning MAC Specialist of the Week, put together an even better performance in her home state as the Barberton, Ohio native scored a 9.700 on vault to tie for fifth and was fourth on floor exercise with a career high 9.775.
Reichard, who competed only on uneven parallel bars a week ago, added beam and floor duties Sunday, scoring a 9.625 on beam to tie for fourth in addition to her third place finish on bars. Sophomore Tanya Rachan
raised her season and career best all-around score by nearly a full point as she went 37.900 despite a miss on the balance beam.
"We're going in the right direction," Sontag said. "I would have liked to have had this one, but I thought we competed well for the first time on the road [this season]. It was great to see Holly get out there and do two more events. Natalie Blum had another great meet, she is lighting it up pretty good right now. With Natalie competing so well, Holly getting back and Tanya continuing to improve, we have three potential 39-point scorers in the all-around. I still see so many areas where the scores can go up and we can improve."
Northern Illinois will get to work on those improvements with a home meet next Sunday versus MAC foe Ball State at the Convocation Center. The meet gets underway at 2 p.m. and tickets are available at the box office beginning one hour before the meet for just $5 for adults and $3 for seniors and youth.
-- NIU -
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