NIU Gymnasts Show Progress at Central Michigan
Jan. 30, 2011
MT. PLEASANT, Mich. - Northern Illinois overcame a slow start on the uneven parallel bars to post its best scores of the season on three events versus Central Michigan at McGuirk Arena Sunday, but the Huskies' season-high 189.100 team total resulted in a loss to the favored CMU gymnastics during the Royal Rumble and Tumble Meet.
With the loss, Northern Illinois fell to 1-4 overall, 1-2 in Mid-American Conference competition, while the Chippewas improved to 8-0, 2-0. CMU recorded a league-best team score of 195.750, after previously going 193.575.
NIU opened Sunday's competition, which was held concurrently with the Central Michigan-Old Dominion wrestling meet, on uneven parallel bars and struggled, with only anchorwoman Ashley Guerra (Orland Park, Ill./Carl Sandburg HS) "hitting" her routine as she scored a 9.650. However, unlike two weeks ago versus Eastern Michigan when Northern Illinois opened slowly on vault and could not rebound at home, the Huskies showed improved maturity and resolve Sunday by putting up their best scores of the year on vault, floor exercise and balance beam in the next three events.
"A couple of weeks ago, when things didn't go the way we hoped to start out, we didn't perform at our best the rest of the way," Sontag said. "Today, we went all the way to the last routine. We really came together as a team; the girls were very cohesive, everyone was involved and was focused on hitting and trying to stay within the game plan. A performance like today is what this team needs to do to grow as a team and be able to start building on our score."
On vault, all-arounder Holly Reichard (Palatine, Ill./Fremd HS) and sophomore Natalie Sutter (Barberton, Ohio/Coventry HS) led the way for the Huskies with Reichard taking fifth place with a 9.725, the highest vault score of the season by any NIU gymnast. Northern Illinois' season best 47.650 total came despite being able to put only five gymnasts in the vault line-up rather than the usual six, meaning that all five scores would be added to make the team score. The Huskies' 47.650 score topped its previous season best vault score by .550 points.
"The vault was pivotal," Sontag said. "Shonda [Clore] hit a nice vault and hit her bar as an exhibition coming off the flu. Natalie looked really, really good, she's been training a little differently on vault and that's paying off. She did a great job for us overall and really rocked her vault with a 9.650."
Sutter earned her season best scores on both vault, and on NIU's next event, the floor exercise, where she scored a team-high 9.725. The Huskies scored a 47.500 on floor exercise as Marisa Liptak (Kendall Park, N.J./South Brunswick HS) had a 9.625 and Reichard a 9.600. Senior Sarah Hurley (Geneva, Ill./Geneva Community HS) added her best floor exercise score of the season with a 9.575.
Northern Illinois' performance on balance beam was even better as all six Huskies on that apparatus "hit" their routines, leading to a team season-best 47.900, the highest score on any event all day. Junior Tanya Rachan (Lowell, Ind./Hanover Central HS), usually an all-arounder for the Huskies who is making a gradual return to the line-up after a foot injury, scored her season high of 9.650 on beam to lead NIU, with Reichard close behind at 9.600 and Liptak adding a career-best 9.575 to tie with Guerra.
"Tanya came in and did a nice job on beam, and I can't say enough about Ashley and her performance - that's the consistency that you want to see from the upperclassmen as you try to figure out the freshmen," Sontag said. "There was a wrestling match going on 20 feet away from the beam, so I'm very proud of the way [the beam team] handled it. This is a meet we can definitely build on. [The team is] starting to see what we're capable of, and the level of talent we have. We're getting there."
Northern Illinois will have next week off before returning to the road versus Western Michigan on Sunday, Feb. 13. The Huskies return to the NIU Convocation Center on Sunday, Feb. 20 when NIU plays host to MAC favorite Kent State beginning at 2 p.m. in Victor E. Court in the team's annual "Pink Meet".
-- NIU -
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