Feb. 7, 2010
DENTON, Texas - Northern Illinois improved its overall team score for the fifth straight meet and sophomore Ashley Guerra (Orland Park, Ill./Carl Sandburg HS) won the title on uneven parallel bars as the Huskies took second place at the Texas Woman's Quadrangular Sunday in Denton, Texas.
Northern Illinois (5-2 overall, 2-1 Mid-American Conference) posted a team score of 192.425 despite a slow start on the balance beam event to finish .700 behind host Texas Woman's University. Air Force placed third with 188.650 points and Centenary was fourth.
"I thought we competed really well," said NIU Head Coach Mark Sontag. "We had a little bit of a letdown on beam, which is hard because it was our first event, but we came back strong on the other events and only lost by seven-tenths. We needed the beam, but had a great set on floor exercise on the next event. So we picked up in areas where we were weak and let down on one that had been strong."
The Huskies earned their highest team score of the season on both floor and vault with three gymnasts placing in the top five on floor exercise, led by senior Natalie Blum (Homer Glen, Ill./Lockport Township HS) who earned second place on the event with a 9.800.
Sophomore Tanya Rachan (Lowell, Ind./Hanover Central HS) tied for third on floor with a 9.775 as she claimed four top five finishes in the meet. Rachan was second in the all-around with a season and career high 38.775, and took second behind NIU's Guerra on uneven parallel bars with a season-high 9.750. She also tied for fourth on balance beam after scoring 9.725. Guerra, meanwhile, won the bars event for the third time in five meets this year.
Blum's 9.725 on vault was good for a tie for third. Holly Reichard (Palatine, Ill./Palatine HS), in her second all-around competition of the season, was third with 38.650, paced by her team-best third place finish and 9.750 score on balance beam
"Tanya gave probably her most complete overall performance of the season," Sontag said. "She had a really nice meet. Natalie has been solid all year and she had another good day."
While the scores continue to rise, Sontag said Northern Illinois has room to improve as healthy gymnasts return to the line-up. After gaining experience in a quadrangular format, the Huskies return to dual meet competition on Friday, Feb. 19 as they take on preseason MAC favorite Kent State in Kent, Ohio.
"It was definitely a different type of meet," Sontag said. "There was a very loud, big crowd and a quadrangular format is good practice for us. We're still moving in the right direction and it will be good to have a little time off before going to Kent State."
-- NIU -
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