Jan. 27, 2008
DEKALB, Ill--As the Northern Illinois women's gymnastic team took to the floor of the Convocation Center Sunday for its 2008 home opener versus Western Michigan, it was evident they were home. The Huskies'comfort translated to a 193.400-188.125 win over WMU, as NIU gymnasts placed first and second in every event except the vault.
Following a strong performance at preseason favorite Kent State last Sunday, where the team finished with a score of 192.675, the Huskies improved on that score versus WMU and stand 1-1 overall and in the MAC.
"The focus going into this meet, as well as for the season, is to get as close to 24 great, solid performances as we can," said Head Coach Mark Sontag. "We are concentrating this season on presenting routines that will start at a 10.0 value, in order to be close and compete with the teams in the MAC."
NIU was led by junior all-arounder Leah Johnson (Glenview, Ill./Glenbrook South HS) who took three titles on the bars, floor, and all-around, with scores of 9.775, 9.800, and 38.925, respectively. Her all-around score bested her season-opening 38.800 mark of a week ago. In her home meet debut, freshman Holly Reichard (Palatine, Ill./Palatine HS), also was a key element in the Huskies win, earning second-place finishes in every event except the floor exercise to post a career-high all-around score of 38.775.
"Our bars performance today was the really pleasant to see," Sontag said. "It is really nice to see the consistency of scoring from last meet and today...and the overall attitude and confidence we had with the event was greatly improved since last meet. We still made a few mistakes, but overall we were very positive and showed a lot more confidence in our abilities."
Northern Illinois scored a 48.550 on the bars Sunday, outdistancing WMU by 2.350 points on that event alone.
Junior Jennifer Naughton
(Smithville, Mo./Smithville H.S.) scored an impressive 9.750 and 9.800 on the beam and floor exercise, earning a first-place finish on the beam, and tying for first with teammate Leah Johnson
on the floor exercise.
Senior Allison Holysz (Hoffman Estates, Ill./Palatine Fremd H.S.) added a second-place tie on the bars with a score of 9.725.
"The most difficult part is to start the next year where you left off in the previous season. It usually takes a while to get back to that point...this year, we have prepared a lot in the summer, have polished those basic techniques, and are already competing at the level that we reached at the conclusion of last season, and are continuing that success," Sontag said.
The Huskies continue their two-meet homestand next Sunday when they play host to Ball State beginning at 2 p.m. in the Convocation Center.